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August 18th, 2008

“…people don’t believe there is a difference between real and fake anymore. Bernard Arnault’s marketing plan had worked: consumers don’t buy luxury branded items for what they are. But for what they represent. And good fakes – the kind that can pass for real – now represent socially the same thing as real.”

Dana Thomas, “Deluxe,” Penguin Press, New York 2007 (Pg. 280)

The marble statue of the Virgin Mary in Michelangelo’s Pieta inspired many aspects of the REALFAKE project. The diaphanous material is organic, soft and transparent while also being hard, cold and permanent. Through the thoughtful rendering and careful manipulation of the forms, the marble is transcended. The “fabric,” here, is an example of instructive truth-telling, where the contours of the textile follow and drape the contours of the legs beneath it. However, the rendering of the material is so seamless and “honest” that the viewer does not consider that what is being revealed could be false. One might argue that media acts similarly to this piece of material, telling people what they want to know or what they want you to know. This project does not investigate media, itself, but looks at what is being mediated: news, pop culture, art, commercial products, history.




Here, the Titanic example is reduced to an abstract form by considering the event, the movie, the wax sculpture, the signifier, and the souvenir. To define these terms regarding the Titanic example: The event is the historical event (1912); the movie is James Cameron’s 1997 epic adaption from Twentieth Century-Fox; the wax sculpture is Madame Tussaud’s tribute to the movie; the signifier is an action/object/expression that recalls the signified, and the souvenir is an artifact of the signified ‘thing.’ What has happened to the original (“A”)? What happens to it each time it changes? What are those changes? What endures?

Each transformation depicts a different “version.” Each version is both true and false at the same time. “Fake,” then, is a blanket expression that inaccurately describes relationships between versions.


Moving to a different point, this linear evolution depicts how signs (or versions) morph and adapt from an original. However, this is not the way in which signs change over time. For example, the Titanic movie changes people’s understanding of the event of the Titanic, and in doing it makes the notion of ‘Titanic’ the aggregate of all of the Titanic ‘things’ that have come before it. All signs coexist, each one being a version of reality that is both true and false.


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