How Phony Things Teach Us About Real Stuff
by Lydia Pyne
Pub Date 29 Oct 2019
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Is the distinction between “real” and “fake” as clear-cut as we think?
Does an authentic Andy Warhol painting need to be painted by Andy Warhol? Should we be outraged that some of those famous scenes in Blue Planet were filmed in a lab? Who are the scientists putting ever-more improbable flavors in our Jelly Belly beans? Welcome to the world of “genuine fakes”--the curious objects that fall in between things that are real and things that are not. Unsurprisingly, the world is full of genuine fakes that defy simple categorization. Whether or not we think that those things are authentic is a matter of perspective.
In Genuine Fakes, historian Lydia Pyne explores how the authenticity of eight genuine fakes depends on their unique combinations of history, science and culture. The stories of art forgeries, fake fossils, nature documentaries, synthetic flavors, museum exhibits, Maya codices and Paleolithic replicas shows that genuine fakes are complicated and change over time. Drawing from historical archives, interviews, museum exhibits, science fiction as well as her own research, Pyne brings each genuine fake to life through unexpected and often outrageous stories.
Can people move past assuming that a diamond grown in a lab is a fake? What happens when a forged painting or manuscript becomes more valuable than its original? Genuine Fakes will make readers think about all the unreal things that they encounter in their daily lives and why they invoke the reactions--surprise, wonder, understanding or annoyance--that they do.