A friend of Picasso’s, while in Paris, comes across a dealer who sells him a Picasso sketch. When visiting his friend, he takes the sketch with him in order to verify it. Picasso looks at it for a few minutes and declares “It’s fake!”
Disappointed, the friend returns to Paris and confronts the dealer, who convinces him to take another drawing, also by Picasso, instead. Picasso inspects it yet again and, again, declares: “It’s fake!”
The third time, the friend brings another drawing. Picasso inspects this one as well and, the same as the last two times, proclaims it “Fake!”
“But Pablo, this one was a test. I saw you drawing this one with my own eyes” says the friend.
“That may be but you see, not even I am good enough to always produce Picasso originals!”
This anecdote is very interesting as it exposes the fragile relationship between the fake and the original, or better yet the forgery or the original. If a forgery implies a manufacturing process so similar to that of the original, as in the case of art reproductions, where the forger emerses himself in the style and the technique, how does it fall in such disgrace when compared to an original.
Today, the media that we work with not only makes faking it a possibility, but to a certain extent encourages it. The cut and paste generation, the photoshoppers, work with a medium that so easily generates fake-looking art, even if the intent was not a fake in itself. Due to the equalizing nature of digital design platforms, one can “design” in mere minutes forms that are both very different but ultimately the same. Take the blob for example. Is a blob not always a copy of an original blob, even though it might be more blobby to the left or to the right than the original blob? This sameness in design is in a way caused by this confusion between the fake and the forgery. If forgery involved the illusion of selling an artefact (whose making process involved a degree of involvement similar to that of the original) as an original, and if fake was the immediate copy, today’s mediums erase the line between fake and forgery since the difference in process becomes non-existent. Originals are so immediate that a forgery immediately becomes a fake. Maybe in today’s art world an original is a mere forgery and the forgery is nothing but a fake.
In the case of Hadid, for instance, we can argue that the initial works are the originals of a recipe of design that, through digital platforms, is repackaged to a certain extent in subsequent projects. They are forgeries of the original project.
The original projects so powerful that they generate a Zaha aesthetic and its adherents form a sort of new style. But it is in the formation of the style that the demise exists – all new designs that can be classified as “in the style of” become fakes of the original because their production was filtered through the sleek design-and-print digital process resulting in a general sameness and flashy spleen.
If slew of followers of a style of today generate samey designs, there is the question of outright faking-it. China’s long history of faking, which never became as culturally shunned as in Europe, creates a new aesthetic, an urban-scape collaged from fakes. The much-copied Zaha is probably the victim in the first fake architecture designed to be completed before the original. The Wangjing Soho design is currently being built in Chongqing, after digital plans and renders of the original were leaked. The Chongqing, adapted to the faking it quick-and-dirty method of working, is going to be completed well before the original in Beijing. Hadid is quoted as saying, so long as her cloned buildings include some innovative new mutations then any copy “could be quite exciting”.
Exercise: Which one is the Zaha?
This is a very interesting definition of the genetics of the fake. A fake of a fake of a fake will inevitably suffer a mutation, an accident, that will generate an original. But can this organic genetic definition of a fake happen in the copy-paste world when the copy never looses, never gains any content?
Let’s look at Little Austria, in China, where developers photoshopped google street views of the Austian town of Hallstadt and were building the doppleganger of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Far East. The straight out of a SF scenario involves befuddled Hallstadtinas looking at images of their UNESCOed homes in China. Is the copy-paste rut of design, masked by stylistic preference, simply a copy paste of a quaint little Austrian village in China?
Is design at a stand still, an infinite ctrl-V of an original whose meaning was long lost in the shuffle? Is the immediately satisfying nature of a design produced for a world that functions from deadline to deadline stopping us from ever questioning the design itself?
Or not? Maybe the shift towards a new understanding of space comes from the anomalies and paradoxes made possible by technology? The recontextualising and the repurposeing of a stale little Austrian helm generates a more interesting discussion, and with it answers, than the blobbysphere ever will.