Monday, April 11, 2011

Replications n Things

I believe that replication projects, in general, deal with themes of identity and deception. When we are presented with an original and its replica, we may initially believe that the two are exactly identical, but upon closer inspection, this illusion of identity will break down. This makes us ask what the word "identical" means and it forces us to confront our notion of uniqueness. If you're me, it also recalls a number of questions from the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind about what it means for two objects, statements or selves to be identical. Some of these questions are:

What does it mean when we use the word "is" to say things like "George Orwell" is "The author of 1984"? Do we mean that the two statements "George Orwell" and "The author of 1984" have the same meaning? That they function the same way within the context of a sentence? Or what?

If I was able to clone myself so that every aspect of my physical and mental constitution were replicated in my clone, would that clone essentially be me? Would there be two "mes"? What makes a "self"?

In general, replications also deal with the theme of deception through contrast between our initial experience of the work and our closer scrutiny of it. That is, what we initially thought to be an exact replica is, upon examination, actually something entirely different, possibly constructed out of different materials. It may be that if we could look inside or behind a replication we would find a skillfully arranged mass of tape and awkwardly-cut paper that, though it bears no resemblance to the original, succeeded in deceiving us into believing it was exactly the same as the original. In my mind this bears similarity to how our initial experience of another person may be a total illusion and wildly different from what we discover after knowing them for a while.

In my opinion, because our class was restricted to working with trash and because most of us chose food containers, there isn't much differentiation in content from one student's work to another's. Even so, we can talk specifically about the content our classes' work as a whole. More than anything, I think our classes' work forces us to consider the design and the aesthetic value in objects that we normally disregard. That is, our body of work takes an object (say a box of candy which has been designed with the intention of appealing to children in candy stores) and puts it on a wall in an exhibition space. Once that has been done, I think the viewer begins to consider this object in parallel with the works of artists and not advertisers.
Replicating trash also kind of gets at a central question about art which is, "what makes a piece of art valuable?". What it looks like we have is two pieces of trash but actually, one of them is a piece of art. Or is it trash too? If they are replicas, how are they different? Can Trash be beautiful? How do we decide?

If I could replicate anything, I'd replicate a person. I'd exhibit a human next to their inanimate replica. I'd make sure, though, that their replica appeared exact from one perspective and that from another angle you could see the interior sub-structure of the replica so that I could speak directly about how our initial perception of someone may be wildly different from the truth.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chris, I really enjoyed reading your post, especially when you compared the initial experience of seeing a replicated object to that of a person. Upon closer scrutiny, we may find that the object/person is something/someone totally different than we thought. What a great insight/application to the real world! :)