INTR 275(S) Real Fakes (Same as English 240 and Religion 282)

Cloning, genetic engineering, transplants, implants, cosmetic surgery, the Osbournes, artificial life, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, faux fashion, sampling, art about art, photographs of photographs, films about films, identity theft, derivatives, facial transplants, Enron, virtual reality, reality TV: the line long separating fake/real, artificial/natural, illusory/true and inauthentic/authentic has disappeared. Fascination with the fake is as old as the imagination itself. But the shift from mechanical to digital and electronic means of production and reproduction has taken simulation to another level. What are the aesthetic, philosophical, social, ethical and political implications of the disappearance of the real? In addition to readings and discussions, there will be visits by a detective, a journalist and experts on art forgery and counterfeiting. Students will be required to select an example of contemporary faking and complete a 15-page paper or multimedia project on it. Readings include: Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man; James Cook, The Arts of Deception: Playing with fraud in the Age of Barnum; Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Simon Worrall, The Poet and the Murderer; Hugh Kenner, The Counterfeiters; Jacques Derrida, Counterfeit Money; Umberto Eco, Travels in Hyperreality; Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol; Lawrence Weschler, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders; and Hans Moravec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. Format: lecture/discussion. Requirements: a midterm exam and final paper (15 pages) or multimedia project. No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 25 (expected: 25). Preference given to first-year students and sophomores. This course may not be taken on a pass/fail basis. Satisfies one semester of the Division II requirement.