Thursday, 16 May 2013

Faith in Fakes

Umberto Eco first used the phrase when nudging himself towards the discussion of a) simulation and b) the hyperreal, one, as far as I can see it, the consequence of the other. This was back in 1986. Today simulation is an everyday affair, and any immediate problem is largely a question of degree, of proximity, of exchange value. It's a big problem alright, but not when you sit in it, which is kind of the point. Take this green chair, a very very nice chair, it is incredibly well made and practically indistinguishable from any other EA217, but it is crucially 'in the style of' and made in China; so it is and it isn't, it's a headfuck. It's also a no brainer, since this incredibly lovely brand new item comes with a price tag of £345, which is a fraction of the price of one made by Vitra in Switzerland. Rather than being problematic, the escalating pace of replication simply proves Karl Marx right, that there is something called use value and something called exchange value for the same object and that the second of these varies more than the first. The hyper inflated value of the 'original' comes not just from specification, but from intangibles such as image and advertising. Even in pointing this out, I am helping Vitra sell it's incredibly expensive chairs, while all the time I'm recommending this one available from the excellent Iconic Interiors fresh off a container in Hull. Meanwhile this chair is sold to me definitively as unoriginal and I like it, just as I like the unoriginal day-bed next to it, and even the unoriginal Le Corbusier drawing that hangs above it. I have faith in fakes. Told you, a headfuck. I'll have to talk to Scott about it.

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