Special Topics: The Original, The Copy, and The Authentic
Monica Huerta
Tuesday & Thursday
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
G-026 Tisch
3 Credit Lecture
This course offers an introduction to the concept of the copy as it has captured the imagination of artists, scientists, filmmakers, and authors from the 19th century to the present. During the semester we will uncover the allure of the body double, probe the eerie displays of taxidermists and wax museums, and learn about how new technologies propose innovative challenges to old understandings of what constitutes the authentic and the copy in the art world. The semester will begin with Mary Shelly's 1831 classic Frankenstein and a focused interrogation of the monster's relationship with his creator. We will compare the 19th century idea of the body double to more current thoughts on humanoid robots through the scientific idea known as "the uncanny valley." From body doubles we will explore the reproduction of objects, questioning definitions of authenticity in the "culture of the copy" by way of the theoretical writings by Walter Benjamin. We will also consider how authenticity affects the display of historical objects, and will follow up on this topic with a class visit to the Henry Ford Museum. The semester will culminate with a discussion on duplication in the art world and a nuanced investigation of current hyperrealist trends. Collaboration will be an integral part of the semester. Students will participate in activities and discussions centered on active learning models such as on-line Wiki postings and in-class presentations. No prior art history or visual culture experience necessary