Nothing HW1: F for Fake

A “fake” movie about fakers who creates forgeries tries to answer the question about real: “What is real, about art, or further, about life?” What a philosophical discussion. Falsity and truth, being and nothingness, reality and illusion. Are there boundaries between them? Or are they just the yin and yang grown out from each other within one Tai-Chi world?

I really enjoy the illusive atmosphere the movie creates with its structure and setup. The storytelling techniques this documentary borrowed from fiction movie and the montage way of editing among several storylines purposely drag the audience into self-doubt about whether they are watching something about “the fact”, or just fall into another trick by Orsen Wells. Wells’ in-person narration and interruption in the actual movie also reflects the essential question of this movie: If a subjective way of presenting the fact is widely accepted, does that make it a “truth”, or we just choose to live in this huge nest of fake? Same idea as art. If forgeries are highly praised and widely accepted by the public, does that make it real art?

“As long as people enjoy it, and it gives them pleasure, why shouldn’t they have it?” 


This type of demand-driven, capitalist viewpoint about the value of art could be easy to understand and widely accepted, but then, for me, it just drag the exploration of the true art value into the black hole of nihilism and agnosticism. With the development of the media and the topics of art, there are always new way of creating art and art pieces that enrich the concept of “art.” “As long as the audience enjoy it,” this kind of viewpoint actually misleads the concept of art to be equaled with market demand. That being said, it seems like everything could be “artsy” as long as it fulfills market demand. But then, is money creating the criteria of what art really is?

“God is dead,” said by Friedrich Nietzsche. There is no such thing as a precise ruler that measure and quantify the “art-hood” of everything under a clear rule.The debates on the ontology of art has been an centuries-old and non-stopping. But there are art theorists and philosophers who try to step away from the chaos, and think of the definition of “art” more fundamentally.

Nelson Goodman, in his philosophy about aesthetics, sidesteps from the endless arguments about “what is art”, and re-phrase the question as “When is art?”  Based on the philosophy theory of Goodman, as something created and consumed by human, art could be given the meaning function of art only if it is under certain circumstances and timing. A rock picked up along the driveway as no aesthetics properties while a rock in art galleries are given some properties of art-hood.  So there is no way to differentiate between art and common artifact if without further clarification of the context.

Arthur Danto contributes another important theory about the ontology of art, the “artworld”. In his work Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Danto defined “art” as some sort of sociological relationship between the audience and the piece, which could only be established when the audience and the piece co-exist within this cultural atmosphere. In another word, audience without the understanding of art theory won’t see an object as art.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *