Digital Representation and the Hyper Real


  • Susan Schreibman DHO


digital humanities, digital archiving, mimesis, representation


This article explores mimesis from two distinct but not unrelated aspects of digital technology. The first part explores the relationship between digital surrogates and their analogue counterparts; how familiar terms like object, imitation, copy, and original function in the digital realm;  what is lost and gained in the transfer to the digital when the materiality of a three-dimensional object is transmuted into a two-dimensional plane; the concept of 'trusted digital objects': digital files that will live on when we, and the objects they were created from no longer exist; the notion that a digital representation may be more appropriately termed a simulacral identity, reflecting, not the object itself, but our beliefs and conventions about it. The second part of this article will explore mimesis from the viewpoint of digital representations as conscious fashionings of hyper-reality or in Wildean terms, employing the unreal and non-existent to recreate the material world in unexpected, fresh, or subversive ways. (pdf for download -- right click or control click to save)

Author Biography

Susan Schreibman, DHO

Susan Schreibman is the first Director of the Digital Humanities Observatory (Dublin, Ireland), a national digital humanities centre Previously she was Assistant Dean for Digital Collections and Research, University of Maryland Libraries (2005-2008), and Assistant Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (2001-2004).


Dr Schreibman is the Founding Editor of The Thomas MacGreevy Archive <>, Irish Resources in the Humanities <>, and the Versioning Machine, a tool to compare multiple versions of text. She is the co-editor of A Companion to Digital Literary Studies (Blackwell, 2008) and A Companion to Digital Humanities (Blackwell, 2004), as well as the author of Collected Poems of Thomas MacGreevy: An Annotated Edition (Catholic U Press, 1991).