Unfortunately due to last minute problems our speaker had to drop out – but we muddled through and faked a discussion on FAKE. Thanks to James for stepping in to lead the discussion and Evan for providing excellent last minute technical support.

We started by considering what Fake meant to us in connection with photography. The definition Google provides is mainly negative –

feɪk/
adjective: fake

1.
not genuine; imitation or counterfeit. “she got on the plane with a fake passport”
synonyms: forgery, counterfeit, copy, sham, fraud, hoax, imitation, mock-up, dummy, reproduction, lookalike, likeness;
phoney, pirate, knock-off, rip-off, dupe “one of the sculptures was found to be a fake”
counterfeit, forged, fraudulent, sham, imitation, false, bogus, spurious, pseudo;
worthless, invalid;
phoney, dud “he gave his wife fake banknotes”
imitation, artificial, synthetic, simulated, reproduction, replica, ersatz, plastic, man-made, dummy, false, mock, sham, bogus, so-called;
pretend, phoney, pseudo “they adorn themselves with fake diamonds”
antonyms: genuine (of a person) claiming to be something that one is not. “a fake doctor”
synonyms: charlatan, quack, mountebank, sham, fraud, humbug, impostor, pretender, masquerader, hoodwinker, hoaxer, cheat, cheater,
deceiver, dissembler, trickster, confidence trickster, fraudster; conman, con artist; confidence man”that doctor is a fake”

noun: fake; plural noun: fakes

1.
a thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham. “fakes of Old Masters”
synonyms: forgery, counterfeit, copy, sham, fraud, hoax, imitation, mock-up, dummy, reproduction, lookalike, likeness; More
phoney, pirate, knock-off, rip-off, dupe “one of the sculptures was found to be a fake”
a person who falsely claims to be something. “I felt sure that some of the nuns were fakes”

verb: fake; 3rd person present: fakes; past tense: faked; past participle: faked; gerund or present participle: faking

1.
forge or counterfeit (something). “she faked her spouse’s signature”
synonyms: forge, counterfeit, falsify, sham, feign, mock up, copy, reproduce, replicate;

Are all photographs fake? The translation of the three dimensional, moving world into that of the flat, still image distorted by lens aberrations, quantised by sensors, and re-coloured by film characteristics or post processing may seem realistic to us but our brains have been trained to make sense of the 2D picture. Research in the 1960s showed that the ability to recognise distances between objects in a 2D image (depth) has to be learned.

Counterfeit art abounds for famous artists, is so much produced for photography? Copyright infringement is everywhere but faked prints seem less common due to the lower prices of what is already a reproduced item. Is creating a homage of an iconic photo fakery? Even the desktop image of the borrowed laptop shows an instantly recognisable view of Yosemite, abet not the one that Ansel Adams took. Some instances of photographic fraud do exist, one example given was the ‘only photo of the three Bronte sisters’ – valuable not for the object but for what it depicts.

A real (unmanipulated) photo used out of context can be considered fake. Stock imagery attached to news stories often leads to the model becoming a murderer/sex fiend/laughing salad eater in the eyes of the public. Real Syrian orphan images are unfortunate in the ease they may be found but a nicely staged artistic shot is the one that goes viral. A real photo from Manchester’s city centre at New Year spawned a host of artistic fakes. Staged photos often cause controversy – should wildlife photographer of the year be renamed tamelife? And un-staged photos of wildlife even more so.

Looking through the article “10 of the Most Famous Photo Hoaxes Through History” for Flavorwire by Emily Temple a common theme emerges. The success of the faked photo lies in the viewers wanting to see and believe the image, from fairies at the bottom of the garden to UFOs.

Thanks to everyone who brought in work (some of it framed!) and hopefully the original talk can be rescheduled for later in the year as the variety within this topic seems to bear more discussion.