Here is a contest just for you. The grand prize is $5000USD. All you have to do is select the original Picasso out of the two displayed below. What have you got to lose? The odds are terrific, 50-50. Is it the left one or the right one? Are you ready?
Sorry, your time is up. If you selected the right one, you're wrong. And if you selected the left one, you're wrong. In fact they're both fakes. To begin with, they are digitized photos of a painting, which is a kind of fake by its nature. But more to the point, they are photos of a fake, an exquisite forgery painted by a master art forger, a young Italian painter with so much talent that it dazzles one's logic as to why he just doesn't create his own, original work. The reason is... money. The reason is… he lives at a time when he is far more assured of success and fortune in copying a treasure than creating a treasure of his own talent.
Second chance. Same prize. Select the original Stella. Ready?
Time's up. Not to be duped, you decided that both are fake. Sorry, the bottom one is the original, the top, a forgery that sold in Las Vegas for a small fortune. The painter—another master forger who at one time had a moderately successful career of his own work but succumbed to the challenge and collected the manna.
While we're talking about scam and fraud, there is also a thriving, highly profitable and legal industry in Faux Art—paintings that are fakes, copies and presented as such with "buyer-beware" certificates and upfront, incessant winks of the eye. In both cases, fakes or faux, the driving motive is outsourcing, shadow contracting, tempered with compulsive consumption and no small amount of greed. It's a motive that can be applied wholesale and reveals a bewildering array of assumptions.
Fakes, Forgeries and The Madnesses of Crowds—to whit:
The U.S. government and its "virtual" President, a clone of one of America's most beloved public philosophers – "Howdy Doody".
So-called Reality television, with actors who cannot act, writers who do not write, and producers who trained at McDonald's.
The non-existent music in Rap.
YouTube, Myspace and the Second Coming.
The "virtual" photography of mobile phones.
The army of private contractors who conduct the
"virtual" war in Iraq.
The army of private contractors who are creating new "virtual" American towns and cities without the need for elections.
The 95% of industrial chemicals that are unregulated.
The "virtual" free-market state of China.
The imaginary, courtesan nation of Mynamar and it's "johns".
The illusionary planet of Greenpeace.
Oprah Winfrey's "virtual" value.
Sushi and the "virtual" guilt of Japan..
Barry Bonds' home run record.
The "virtual" separation of church and state, men from boys, womyn from girls, dogs and cats.
David Beckham and the "virtual" sport of soccer.
The fact that Jean Luc Godard is still alive.
The fact that Google is a misspelling.
The good will of Bill Gates and his mother.
The "virtual" music of Phillip Glass and Bob Dylan.
The "virtual" repertory of repertory theatre and theater.
The "virtual" art of graffiti and giuliani.
The "virtual" integrity of the New York Times.
The "virtual" news of Fox news and its virtuous owner.
Drugs, alcohol and the Adobe version of the Christian bible.
…and the beat goes on.
Take your pick, add your pick, after all, we're all part of the crowd.