Is the distinction between “real” and “fake” as clear-cut as we think?
Does an authentic Andy Warhol painting need to be painted by Andy Warhol? Should we be outraged that some of those famous scenes in Blue Planet were filmed in a lab? Who are the scientists putting ever-more improbable flavors in our Jelly Belly beans? Welcome to the world of “genuine fakes”--the curious objects that fall in between things that are real and things that are not. Unsurprisingly, the world is full of genuine fakes that defy simple categorization. Whether or not we think that those things are authentic is a matter of perspective.
In Genuine Fakes, historian Lydia Pyne explores how the authenticity of eight genuine fakes depends on their unique combinations of history, science and culture. The stories of art forgeries, fake fossils, nature documentaries, synthetic flavors, museum exhibits, Maya codices and Paleolithic replicas shows that genuine fakes are complicated and change over time. Drawing from historical archives, interviews, museum exhibits, science fiction as well as her own research, Pyne brings each genuine fake to life through unexpected and often outrageous stories.
Can people move past assuming that a diamond grown in a lab is a fake? What happens when a forged painting or manuscript becomes more valuable than its original? Genuine Fakes will make readers think about all the unreal things that they encounter in their daily lives and why they invoke the reactions--surprise, wonder, understanding or annoyance--that they do.
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About the Author
Lydia Pyne is a writer and historian, interested in the history of science and material culture. She has degrees in history and anthropology and a PhD in history and philosophy of science from Arizona State University, and is currently a visiting researcher at the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her field and archival work has ranged from South Africa, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan and Iran to the American Southwest.
Lydia's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, History Today, Time, The Scientist, Lady Science and Electric Literature as well as The Public Domain Review, and her previous book was Seven Skeletons, the story of human origins.