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Genuine Fakes - A review

In May of 2017, Lydia Pyne in a tweet, encouraged us to keep our fingers crossed for her pursuit of a new obsession. Over the next couple of years, she teased us tweeting objects genuine and fake. Finally it all come together in her new book: Genuine Fakes : How phony things teach us about real stuff. Through the book we learn that some fake objects are made to bamboozle us. Other fake objects are made as models to teach us. The problem is: where do we draw the line, or is it a continuum?

December 14, 2019 was Gerald the Giraffe's 100th anniversary of being on display at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter, UK. Gerald has been standing there with his friends for 100 years. To celebrate this occasion, the RAMM advertised that there would be "A fun-filled day of family activities on the cards including face painting, party games, an animal-themed disco and the opportunity to make your own giraffe Christmas decoration. Not a natural dancer, Gerald will be getting into the spirit by wearing his party hat and posing for photos at a specially-designed selfie station!
All guests will receive a special gift to take home with them, and following a rousing happy birthday to Gerald birthday cake will be served from 12pm onwards.

I particularly noticed in my photo of Gerald that I had also captured a whale skeleton in the background. I realized that I could go through a lot of my photos taken in natural history museums and find skeletons of whales. This all came to my attention as I was enjoying Genuine Fakes. The book helped me understand why so many museums display whale skeletons. Perhaps it also helped me understand why I often take pictures of them.

After reading Genuine Fakes, I have a new way of viewing museum exhibits and science documentary television series. I was amused by Pyne’s description of ‘docusoaps’. I have at least three television channels dedicated to them on my cable subscription list. Lydia Pyne’s Genuine Fakes has provided me with a new lens to consider much of my world view, whether it be medieval role players or museum interpretive guides in costume, maybe the latest VR experience, or perhaps Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia or the 1910 copy that replaced him in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in the Piazza della Signoria. Immediately after reading the book I found myself engaging in conversations and talking about some aspect of this book as it relates to the discussion.

I noted on this blog in November 2016 that I really enjoyed reading Lydia Pyne’s Seven Skeletons (link below). I will state the same advice for her Genuine Fakes: You will want to read her book.

Links of interest:
  Seven Skeletons – Lydia Pyne : a review
  Inside the Mine: A Virtual Reality Experience
  You can also find me on Twitter @GWardis

Genuine Fakes - A review

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