Face/Off

Elif Batuman was just on the Longform podcast and gave a stunning interview about her struggle against the clearcut categories of fiction and nonfiction. Batuman wrote the recent New Yorker article about the Japanese rent-a-family industry that garnered widespread attention. As the podcast host puts it, the article seems to have really hit a nerve within everybody. It really did within me.

Benjamin Walker hosts the Theory of Everything podcast. Walker has been running a series, called False Alarm, exploring the battle today between real and fake. On the recent Radiotopia Live tour, Walker put together an act where he convinced the audience that an artificially intelligent plant could learn his preferences and conduct a conversation with him.

Artists today are using machine learning to generate realistic-looking images and videos. You can now swap Nicolas Cage’s face onto your favorite movie characters.

I was at a fundraising social at Greenwich House Pottery the other day, and chanced upon a presentation by Danny Crump. Crump has done several projects exploring the authenticity of Chinese ceramics, creating his own knockoffs and swapping them for Chinese (real?) knockoffs.

These are but four examples, but there is clearly a growing community that is exploring the boundaries between fact and fiction. People across disciplines seem to be doing interesting work on this topic.

Just as the Situationalists focused on the spectacle, is this community today something that might become formalized as a movement? A cross-disciplinary movement that explores the fluidity between what is real and what isn’t?

The Real/Fake movement. Mixed reactions to Mixed Reality.

What is reality? What do Kant and Hume have to say about this matter?

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