In a previous blog post, I wrote that visually we seem to have entered what I then termed the post-aesthetic age (click here to read that post). Really, all that denomination was meant to mean was that with the passing of time images seem to be increasingly becoming more and more aesthetically alike. Terming the current age the post-aesthetic age was definitely not meant to be understood as a call for the shirking of all responsibility by image creators and image consumers alike to decode images, no matter how alike, properly. On the contrary, that responsibility bears on our shoulders more heavily, now more than ever.
We consume tonnes of images daily, be it through printed material, social media, billboard advertisements, etc. But some of us do still make it a point to sacrifice some time every day to that delectable pastime of rummaging, mainly online, through the latest photographic projects and the most recent photobook publications – our tithe before the altar of that most sacred deity, Art, we invoke in abject misery.
And it occasionally happens that during those online peregrinations we stumble upon very interesting work done by some absolute nobody.
And this is the phenomenon I would like to discuss in this blog post: filched work.
Let us start by stating the following premise: we are a bunch of fools equipped with formidable brains.
Your brain knows it is filched work; you don’t. In order to trick you even further, your brain, in a split of a split of a nanosecond has associated the filched work with someone else’s original work, which, at least to the brain, is the correct source of the plagiaristic work. You don’t know anything about this, at least for the time being, but helplessly suffer the consequences – you go on and on blabbering laudations for this nobody, for this con-artist. You create fantastical narratives around the work, invent in your head all kind of flamboyant anecdotes about this godly (con-)artist and his/her wonderful capabilities… meanings begin to germinate like cancers.
BUT, that the work was plagiaristic, copied, filched, pilfered, done through criminal means with criminal intent, etc., means, in the here and now, absolutely nothing.
The fault lies with the original artist.
The original artist thought himself/herself brave enough to speak the truth… and therefore must now bed the truth’s bastard son: falsehood. Truth and falsehood are monstrosities that the original artist fabricates inside his/her little world and that s/he has to keep on acknowledging… and sucking up to, adulterously and incestuously, in return for more concepts, ideas, etc. One might say that falsehood is indeed a ubiquitous and a necessary bystander at the truth’s baptism by fire.
The narratives, anecdotes and meanings you invested the con-artist and his/her work with belong, really and truly, to the original artist and his/her creations. The original artist serves as the surrogate mother for the plagiaristic work.
We end with a final premise: we are bad metaphors, cheap copies of our brains.
Where does this leave the con-artist? In reality… nowhere.