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The importance of originality

Jirin

about 3 years ago

Saw this film today. I was drawn in by the debate of the film.

An artist makes a painting. Another artists makes a painting which is identical down to the molecule. Is the copy just as good as the original?

The film takes the question but doesn’t advocate a side. Instead, it frames the debate. The man, who is arguing that the copy is just as good as the original, is intellectually removed from not only the art, but the woman’s personal situation. The woman, who is arguing the importance of originality, is emotionally invested in the art, and her personal situation. This makes a subtle point about the nature of the debate. If you believe the intention and the act of creating art is inseparable from its appreciation, originality is important. If you believe art should be judged solely on the basis of the object and its beauty as you see it, the copy is as good as the original.

So when the man starts taking the part of her absent husband, they are both putting the theory to practice. The woman is emotionally invested in the theory, whereas the man is just indulging his intellectual curiosity. He is not the original husband, he is a copy. Can he be just as good as the original?

This question drives to the very nature of art. Is art a physical object or a sentimental object? Is art judged simply based on what you can see and hear, or is it inseparable from its generation?

I would personally argue that a lot of the people who swear that originality is important are just trying to protect the value of their collections. Before I saw the film I would have sided with the man. Now, I just have no idea what I think.

Polaris​DiB

about 3 years ago

Before I begin, a quick moment of geeky jocularity:

which is identical down to the molecule.

Award this artist! He has just broken the law of constant mass! He has invented particle replication! The significance this has to energy, communications technology, and possibly even space and time travel!

Unless you mean he just forwarded an e-mail featuring digital art. Then he’s just part of the audience.

Anyway,

Many forms of copiers do exist, from scribes who had to manually copy books word for word, to those who replicate famous and fine art for companies to sell prints of; sometimes an artist takes command of this replicating process, such as Thomas Kinkade and his many prints, but be aware that whatever your thoughts on Kinkade, he literally lessens the value of each individual print each new copy he creates, and only gets away with this business model because of a large and mostly idiosyncratic brand name.

But scribes are not credited as authors, and Kinkade cannot really sell “an original” because that term has ceased to be significant when applied to his work. An original artist, basically, has to come up with a new, previously uncopied composition. This does not state that it is without references to other already extant compositions, but nevertheless no previous copy exists for the painting the so-called original artist is making. Thus, originality is important to create new compositions, and if you want to justify the craftsmanship of copying (I’m game, why not?), originality is still significant in the creation of new compositions with which to copy.

The rest of “what is art” I’m not touching, because we’ve had that discussion like a bajillion times here and I’m getting kinda tired of it. The point is that originality still is valuable in the creation of new compositions, which no amount of the justification of copying can actually replicate. Indeed, we still have not made the computer program that is an original novel generator—some artists have only successfully made a novel generator using fragments of their own composition, making even the situation of a user activating the generator still less responsible in terms of “authorship” than the writer of the program and the fragments it generates.

—PolarisDiB

Polaris​DiB

about 3 years ago

I would personally argue that a lot of the people who swear that originality is important are just trying to protect the value of their collections.

And here is a separate territory, the concept of collecting. Many people collect to surround themselves with pretty things, but the people of which you speak collect as an investment—what Andy Warhol joked about as nailing money to the wall. Note that Andy Warhol’s art is significantly the art of constant copying and reproduction.

In here as well we have the issue of authenticity and appraisal, an art itself rather than a science. Many many many thinkers writing about this issue point out the importance of flaws, rot, degradation, things to date and sign the piece. Derrida mentions a signature as something that has to be replicable to prove the individualness of the signer, but varying enough to prove the instance, or presence, of the signer: that is to say, we cannot have every signature we write exactly match or else someone could merely create a stamp with our signature on it and claim to be ourselves, but yet our signatures must be similar and comparable instance to instance or nobody would believe they are all from the same person.

Thus, flaws are often held up as a standard of authenticity. I went to a gypsum museum/shop in Egypt where you could see the individual craftsperson making scarabs that they sell. The scarabs all have basically an arbitrary mix of Egyptian symbols on their bottom half and the same two designs on their top half; thus each scarab is, strictly speaking, individual from each other scarab, but the production of the scarabs as a whole is a constant process of copying the same symbols over and over again. Furthermore, the manual method of production means most and in fact all scarabs are just slightly different from each other even on the top side with the only two variants, because one line is just slightly thicker than another, the composition is just slightly different. A machine, on the other hand, could imprint the same designs exactly on specified sizes of gypsum which would be modelled by the machine for total replication.

I bought four scarabs of differing symbols because I wanted to send each to a different friend. All together, the four scarabs cost me 50 Egyptian pounds (like less than $10). Despite being manually created, they are still commonly replicated, and nothing specifically sets an author of that product. My coworker and friend Matt, also there, did not want those scarabs because he could see in the shop that there were so many of them, that anybody who wanted one could own a gypsum scarab (in fact, if any of you want, I may be able to track down the business card for that place so that you may order a scarab of your own. I may have lost it though). MATT, instead of just wanting something pretty he could share with other people, wanted something individual and unique he could value himself—he looked around the shop for something they made only a few times or less, so that there were no other copies in the world to “lessen its value.” I think he found a bust that they had that, when he asked, they said they discontinued because it took too much work to make.

Whether either of our purchases holds its value or not is insignificant—I am merely illustrating the different ways of thinking about this issue of collecting. My thought process behind what I wanted was not to gain something that holds unique or individual value—art—but to have something that I could share with others and related to a certain memory and story of myself—also art. However, I note that my hand-crafted scarabs, to me, felt more “valuable” in their manual nature—the small flaws and idiosyncracies between each individual scarab, the fact that on the bottom half the Egyptian symbols are seldomly and rarely replicated exactly—than if I had seen the same product in a place where I knew or thought that it was machine created to a limited and specified number of variations. It has a craftsman quality to it I can point out, even if that quality is underlined by mistakes rather than perfection.

Going further, I used to collect Magic: the Gathering cards, and I used to do so both to play the game and also to collect what I felt was an investment with possible returns. Magic: the Gathering cards are printed in such a way that the rarity of a card is specified by the number of times it appears on any individually printed sheet of cards before it gets cut. The rarest Magic: the Gathering card is the Black Lotus, rare because its mechanics involved flipping it over onto other cards to remove them from play, which caused a lot of tourniment players in the early days of the game to tear the card to pieces before flipping it in order to maximize the number of other cards removed from play—so many of this already less-often printed card were torn up in this way, that today fewer of those cards exist, and thus are worth (been years since I checked, let’s look this bad boy up!): up to $19.5K .

Therein, “rarity” and “collecting value” is implied literally by the number of productions of a card versus the number of cards produced for the game as a whole, and is even reported on later editions of the game in text on the bottom of the card so that the specific rarity and value can always be tracked. Wizards of the Coast are aware of the collectible value of their card game (thus: CCG, or “Collectible Card Game”) and promote it as a sales-point. The game you are playing today can be worth more later when you decide to give up playing it and sell it.

I own the entire Urza’s Legacy release from when I collected back in midschool, and I sincerely doubt it will ever be worth more than I paid to find each card in it. I mostly just keep it around for nostalgic purposes anymore, remembering the days when I did play and collect those cards. The person who wins in investing in Magic: the Gathering cards is Wizards of the Coast.

But so and so anyway, back to art. Thomas Kinkade could highly increase the value of his individual art if he did not make prints, but since even his original art is merely variations of the same themes, it’s still not compositionally significantly different and is not worth a whole lot of money to collect; furthermore, at this point he just has other workers replicating these paintings for him, meaning he’s not longer the original painter of his prints! He has truly industrialized his “art”, and so some people argue that he does not make art. I leave that conclusion up to anybody, I don’t care—the point is that when speaking about price-value of art, Kinkade is objectively worthless, but when talking about business value of art, Kinkade has a good monetary return. When talking about “originality”, Kinkade paintings are recognizably Kinkade, but particularly BECAUSE they are so repetitive that nobody can tell the difference between what his hands have touched, and what other craftsman working for him did instead. Thus, Kinkade is objectively unoriginal in terms of the idea of creating new compositions, but objectively original in terms of recognizable authorship.

—PolarisDiB

Mischa

about 3 years ago

Originality serves the purpose of opening up new perspectives on old ideas. That is, there are only so many fundamental and elementary ideas available in the world, but we are capable of combining them and expressing them in an enormous variety of ways, i.e. combining fundamental elements in order to build a hierarchy that becomes unique.

For instance, artists such as Picasso and Kafka were original because they took various elementary ideas that had already existed individually, and then they synthesised them together in such a way that had never been done before, i.e. they created a new perspective of our world by building a unique hierarchy of ideas and styles made up of fundamental elements available to us all.

If a copy of an original artwork can open up such a new perspective for an audience member, then it has served a purpose… BUT, this implies that the person appreciating the copy is ignorant of the original version.

Rich Uncle Skeleton

about 3 years ago

Don’t have anything as substantive as Polaris to add to this, but I thought I’d voice my opinion…

I believe that originality should be given absolutely no importance when judging a work of art, and should be given a huge amount of importance when judging an artist. If you have an original painting and someone goes and makes a seemingly identical (as far as the human senses are concerned anyway) copy of it then the copy is every bit as good a work of art as the original. They’re aesthetically the same, so how could they not be as good as one another? However the artist who made the copy is not as good as the artist that made the original, because whereas the artist who made the original had to come up with the idea, figure out how to portray it &c., the artist who made the copy required just the skills of a forger – admittedly still a lot of skill, but not exactly the sort of thing I’d use to qualify someone as a great artist (except from, of course, being great at the art of forgery).

On a tangential note, I also believe that art should be judged in the present. It always annoys me when someone says a film is a great film because if you look at it from the viewpoint of when it was released it was a great film. There’s something I can’t help but find dishonest about that: if a film provokes an emotional or intellectual response from you now in the present such that you consider it great, or good, or bad, then it is great or good or bad now in the present from your perspective. The only way you can realistically judge art is by your own subjective response. Saying that a film would have been great viewed 80 years ago and thus is great now is unfair both to the film in question and to yourself as a viewer.

Jirin

about 3 years ago

I like the distinction you make between judging the art and judging the artist. (Although, Orson Welles would argue to the contrary, if you’ve seen F For Fake).

When I say ‘Protecting the value of their collections’, here’s more precisely what I meant. If a great work of art has to be the original article, touched by the hand of the artist himself, then only one real copy can ever exist. But, if a copy of the original, that looks and feels exactly the same, is just as good as the original, then an indefinite number of copies can exist. People’s million dollar collections are suddenly worth a fraction of that.

I also agree about judging art in the present. In the era of silent films, great actors stuck to the stage, and films were cast only with good pantomimes. Should we ignore that when we judge a silent film?

Polaris​DiB

about 3 years ago

Keep in mind a couple of things, Jirin:

1) Sometimes the hand of the artist is the hand of the copier, as the artist is making the copies himself.

2) What is the original “film”? Even the and I quote “original negative print” is in no way guaranteed to be the director’s work. Where the difference between intellectual property and commodity lies, is in the investment and evaluations of the collectors themselves. Nothing dictates the price of any painting or its print, so value is not an accurate measurement of originality, whereas originality can sometimes help increase value.

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

I just saw this, and I really don’t have a good grasp of the film (although I found it interesting). The OP has a lot of different ideas that I want to sort through.

An artist makes a painting. Another artists makes a painting which is identical down to the molecule. Is the copy just as good as the original?

Early in the film, this question does seem important, but how does this relate to the second half of the film involving the man as the woman’s husband? I’m not sure the film is asking if the man is as “good” as the woman’s real husband—so much as does it doesn’t matter if the man is the real husband or not. (Maybe that’s essentially what you’re saying?)

At the same time, this explanation seems to fall short. The film seems to want to say something significant about the differences between men and women and maybe the nature of relationships and marriage. But then the connection between the role playing and the question of originality in art seems to be rather tenuous and superficial.

Some other questions/comments:

1. What do people think about the ending—specifically the man looking at himself in the mirror and then hearing the church bells?

2. Did anyone have a problem with the acting? Initially, the acting seemed a bit forced and unnatural—i.e., bad acting in this context. At times, they didn’t seem really comfortable. Perhaps the dialogue contributed to this as it felt written out—almost preachy. (It reminded me of the film Mindwalk.)

3. I was pleasantly surprised by the humorous moments.

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

Re: the ending

The first think I thought of was the line from John Donne: “Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” In other words, in that moment, perhaps the man is thinking about the situation with the woman and how it might apply to him—even though he may not actually be the woman’s husband. (On the other hand, maybe he mystically transforms into the husband.) Or maybe the bells—and the man’s wondering expression—is for the viewer—i.e., that the viewer should consider their own relationships. I don’t know if I completely buy this reading, but I’ll throw it out there.

I know I said this before, but this is a rich, and difficult film to sort through, and I still feel a bit lost. At the same time, I think it’s a very interesting film—one that could get better upon more reflection and analysis.

Drunken Father Figure of Old

about 2 years ago

Did anyone have a problem with the acting?

I definitely had a problem with the acting, but I think that means I didn’t get it. Specifically Shimell’s reaction to Binoche liking the wine… my girlfriend and I use that frequently as a joke now!

I think I’m gonna watch it again sometime soon since it’s on Instant Play. The thing that makes me really want to reconsider it is the fact that it’s in real time, but not at all in real time. There’s a level of artifice that I want to explore and see if it goes anywhere.

Santino

about 2 years ago

I had no problem with the acting. In fact, what kept me engaged throughout was Binoche, who I love to just watch. She is such a charismatic actor.

I do think this is a film that gets better with reflection and rewatches. I have only seen it once (a year ago in the theater) but have anxiously been waiting for the Criterion release so I could watch it again. I think it’s a sort of a meta type of a film (like Funny Games) in that it’s more about our expectations as viewers as anything else.

There was a pretty interesting debate that Ignatiy and Christy had on the Ebert show when they reviewed the film. They both loved it but had complete opposite interpretations. Christy thought they were indeed married while Ignatiy thought they were strangers. Ignatiy went so far as to say if Christy was right, the film isn’t nearly as strong. For me, they both make compelling arguments and in fact, I think they’re both right. I think it could be viewed as these characters are both complete strangers in the first half of the film but then are an old married couple in the second half of the film (thus the comparisons to Funny Games, where the film in essence is interacting with the audience). Jim Emerson had a wonderful article about this (he also mentions he acting) and I encourage everyone to read it, as he references a lot of other critics on their own interpretations.

Christy/Ignatiy discuss Certified Copy

Certified Copy – How Can you Be In Two Spaces At Once?

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

@Santino

Thanks for the links and information. I started reading the Emerson piece, but then I stopped. I want to think about this more before I read comments from others.

One thing: In Emerson’s piece, he uses the word, “slippery” to describe the film, and that reminded me of something I forgot to mention. Based on the few Persian films I’ve seen, two qualities stand out for me: 1) the poetic quality of the films; 2) related to that, the way the films often seamlessly and inexplicably shift between time, space, reality and fiction. For example, (spoilers) in Gabbeh, the actors seem to shift smoothly and imperceptibly between different characters—specifically an old man and old woman as well and the characters in a fable. Personally, I love the way there doesn’t seem to be any conventional boundaries.

I experienced the same thing in Certified Copy. There might be filmmakers from other countries known for this, but I associate this quality with the Persians.

Santino

about 2 years ago

@Jazz -

I’m not sure about the Persian thing since I haven’t seen many Persian films. But if you read Emerson’s article further, he mentions Bunual as a filmmaker who used a similar tactic in his films:

“At this point in the movie (which I’ve seen only once), I was thinking of “That Obscure Object of Desire,” in which Buñuel cast two actresses as a single character and switched them in and out at random"

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

Huh. I haven’t seen That Obscure, but I don’t get see what I’m talking about in other Bunuel films. Oh well. Btw, you should check out Gabbeh. I have to watch it again, but at one point, it might have been my pick for best film of the 90s.

Santino

about 2 years ago

Never heard of Gabbeh but I’ll check it out.

Jirin

about 2 years ago

My interpretation of the church bells is that, her husband would have known the significance of the room they stayed in.

To me, what the film is saying that’s the essence of the argument for originality. The man can act like the husband, but he doesn’t have the context and history of their marriage that makes it special. Similarly, the copy can look like the original but it doesn’t have the same history, and it comes down to whether that history emotionally resonates with you.

Jazzalo​ha

about 2 years ago

@Jirin

My interpretation of the church bells is that, her husband would have known the significance of the room they stayed in.

Do you mean that when he looks startled or as if he’s realizes something, he’s realizing that if he were the husband he would know the significance of the room? That doesn’t make sense. ?

The man can act like the husband, but he doesn’t have the context and history of their marriage that makes it special. Similarly, the copy can look like the original but it doesn’t have the same history, and it comes down to whether that history emotionally resonates with you.

I like this reading, but are the specific discussions about the nature of marriage, men and women (including the discussion with the lady at the coffee shop) relevant to what the film is about? I feel like these insights are important, and I’m wondering if they can be reconciled with your reading of the film.

Jazzalo​ha

about 1 year ago

I just watched this again with some friends.

One of my friends had an interesting hypothesis about the film—one that never occurred to me and one that seems really far-fetched. He suggested that the Elle and James were really husband and wife, but when they first met, they pretended to not know each other—that this was done for therapeutic reasons to help their marriage. In the second half, their real selves starts breaking through the facade. Does anyone else agree with this reading? If so, I’d like to hear a case for it.

Enygma

about 1 year ago

There is no ‘simple’ or straight-forward reading of this film, Jazz. This is a film where the true relationship of the couple is purposefully vague. This is NOT a narrative that has a plausible solution re the ‘true’ nature of this relationship, either, as we see it unfold so quickly in the film. It all ties in, if you follow it closely, though.

The whole film operates on the pretext that there is something original or authentic – be it a painting or a relationship – then there is an exact copy that is identical to it – except it is a copy. What Kiarostami is doing is encapsulating a whole, complex relationship within a very short time span. What we see unfolding in real time (ie, the course of a few brief hours) is really mirroring a relationship of several years.

In the beginning, two strangers meet, have something in common, talk, and a sort of quasi relationship evolves. Then we telescope in psychological time, after a period of several years, we can guess, where the relationship has turned rather stale and predictable. The amorous couple then becomes two old nags – with their insecurities and tensions. Several years have unfolded in the course of the few hours of the on-screen relationship. Psychological time is the only real time in the film – not the chronological time.

Kiarostami is just telescoping this on screen into a microcosm, taking place in hours, not years. This is an aesthetic short-hand on his part, to make us question the true nature of the relationship – ie, what is true of what we see and what is false – a copy.

There is no intention to have us believe that this is just an old married couple playing some sort of elaborate game of pretense from the beginning. Far too pedestrian of a reading for a master of relationship and authenticity such as Kiarostami. This is a full-term relationship condensed into a few hours – and the length of the film. What is true re this relationship and what is just a copy? See Santino’s posts with the links above where one of the critics takes a similar stance to your friend, Jazz, that the couple have been married all along. I found the relationship in this film far less ambiguous than the one in Last Year at Marienbad – which was the original puzzle-piece of which this is a copy.

You can find some interviews with Kiarostami re this film on the internet, where he goes into his intentions. He is too subtle to give us an easy reading or a simple solution to the true nature of the relationship he puts on screen. It’s like asking Haneke who really did send those tapes in Cache. We must use our imagination and our intellect to figure this out.

Joks

about 1 year ago

“Kiarostami is just telescoping this on screen into a microcosm, taking place in hours, not years. This is an aesthetic short-hand on his part, to make us question the true nature of the relationship – ie, what is true of what we see and what is false – a copy.”

Pray tell, what do you think he has to say about it? I’m not sure he even knows what he is saying. He seems to be claiming two different things in interviews. One is that a copy can often be ‘better’ than the original. and two, that relationships between men and women—romantic relationships—are essentially based on illusion; once that illusion breaks, and when the person or the situation becomes too familiar and there is no longer any mystery, it stops ‘working’.

I’m not sure if the two ideas really fit together that easily. If he is saying that the notion of the authentic/original is misplaced, or at least not what we think it is, then saying a copy can be better than an original doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the context of the relationship we are viewing onscreen.

and for the record, i think it’s quite obvious in that final shot whose ‘side’ Kiarostami is on

Joks

about 1 year ago

Also, for the people on here that are going to respond to my question, make sure you actually answer it—i.e establish a link between the notion of the copy and original in relation to the onscreen relationship—that hasn’t already been mentioned above. Don’t just waffle on vaguely.

Jirin raises some interesting points.

Robert W Peabody III

about 1 year ago

I was going to say something, but if we are not allowed to waffle….;-(

Joks

about 1 year ago

^^haha Robert. You are good at explaining things in a straight forward way. I have a vague idea of the possible connection, but i want to hear your take.

Robert W Peabody III

about 1 year ago

It’s like asking Haneke who really did send those tapes in Cache.

Exactly. People are messing with married / not married label rather than focusing on the dynamic. Same way they might original/copy rather than their relationship to original/copy.
I do get the feeling at the end that Kiarostami’s film takes sides. I’d be willing to bet it is an absolutely subjective feeling…

Scampi

about 1 year ago

He suggested that the Elle and James were really husband and wife, but when they first met, they pretended to not know each other—that this was done for therapeutic reasons to help their marriage. In the second half, their real selves starts breaking through the facade

This was my reading of the film after a bit of thought too.

Jazzalo​ha

about 1 year ago

@Enygma

There is no ‘simple’ or straight-forward reading of this film, Jazz.

That, I agree with. I hope I didn’t imply that there is a simple, straight-forward reading of the film. Even if my friend is correct about the relationship, I still don’t think the film is simple or straight-forward.

Several years have unfolded in the course of the few hours of the on-screen relationship. Psychological time is the only real time in the film – not the chronological time….This is an aesthetic short-hand on his part, to make us question the true nature of the relationship – ie, what is true of what we see and what is false – a copy.

The idea of compressing the relationship is interesting, but I’m not sure I agree that’s what’s going on. Couldn’t the man just be playing a role—pretending to be a copy of the husband, with the woman playing along, thereby creating a copy of the relationship. I wouldn’t also rule out the possibility that there is some mystical transformation that occurs—or something in between the role playing and mystical transformation. In any event, I’m not sure there is a correct answer to this question, and my sense is that it doesn’t matter.

There is no intention to have us believe that this is just an old married couple playing some sort of elaborate game of pretense from the beginning

That’s my sense, too, but I’m willing to explore other readings—such as the one my friend offered. I’d like to see a more detailed case for any of the interpretations offered.

I found the relationship in this film far less ambiguous than the one in Last Year at Marienbad – which was the original puzzle-piece of which this is a copy.

I don’t think I agree that the relationship is far less ambiguous—at least in terms of who the people are, and whether their relationship is the original or not. That seems to be one of the crucial themes in the film—is something the original or copy and does it matter—especially if the copy is virtually the same as the original.

@Joks

I’m not sure he even knows what he is saying.

First of all, do you believe that a filmmaker (or artist) has to be able to fully articulate coherent, logical and explanations of her work? Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t have a problem with a filmmaker struggling to explain their work. Indeed, a lack of struggle is more of a bad sign to me.

He seems to be claiming two different things in interviews. One is that a copy can often be ‘better’ than the original. and two, that relationships between men and women—romantic relationships—are essentially based on illusion; once that illusion breaks, and when the person or the situation becomes too familiar and there is no longer any mystery, it stops ‘working’.

Just to throw something out here: There’s another sense of original that could be at play—namely, original in the sense of “origin” or “beginning.” (James actually references this in his speech at the beginning of the film.) In this sense, we can see the beginning of a relationship—starting at the wedding—as the “original”—while the relationship in the future is a kind of “copy” of that original. This might explain the wedding and young couple in the film.

This might also tie in with Kiarostami’s ideas about illusion being the basis of a relationship. In the film, the couple take pictures with the recently married couple (copy+original), and James says something to them. Elle says she wished he weren’t so ironic, and James mentions that he couldn’t help it—something about how their perceptions are somewhat misleading as things will change, people will change. In other words, the recently married couple haven’t seen beyond the illusion—while James has.

This tension is played out between the two characters as well. Elle seems to long for the original state of their relationship and begins to feel that maybe James no longer loves her because things have changed. James, on the other hand, gets frustrated at this notion—and he tries to show her this by giving the analogy of her falling asleep at the wheel while the son was in the car. (But, amusingly, it doesn’t work—“I didn’t fall asleep, I dozed.”)

and for the record, i think it’s quite obvious in that final shot whose ‘side’ Kiarostami is on

It wasn’t obvious to me. What side is he on? (I’m even sure that he was taking sides, too.)

Don’t just waffle on vaguely.

To be fair, I think this is a very layered and complex film—not unlike a ideological rich poem.

Jirin raises some interesting points.

Yes, and I meant to address some of his comments. I’ll try to get to those later.

@Robert

Exactly. People are messing with married / not married label rather than focusing on the dynamic. Same way they might original/copy rather than their relationship to original/copy.

I agree with this for the most part, but, to be fair, I think people have to wrestle and explore the issue—at the very least to get their bearings on the film.

Matt Parks

about 1 year ago

“I’m not sure if the two ideas really fit together that easily. If he is saying that the notion of the authentic/original is misplaced, or at least not what we think it is, then saying a copy can be better than an original doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the context of the relationship we are viewing onscreen.”

If he’s saying that—-that “the notion of the authentic/original is misplaced”, though, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to turn around and try to redeploy those terms into a hierarchical structure in either direction. If that’s the direction we going to run in interpreting the film, couldn’t we just scrap all the “original/copy, real/fake” stuff and suppose that maybe one iteration is superior to another and leave it at that?

Jazzalo​ha

about 1 year ago

@Jirin

Is the copy just as good as the original?

The film takes the question but doesn’t advocate a side. Instead, it frames the debate. The man, who is arguing that the copy is just as good as the original, is intellectually removed from not only the art, but the woman’s personal situation. The woman, who is arguing the importance of originality, is emotionally invested in the art, and her personal situation. This makes a subtle point about the nature of the debate. If you believe the intention and the act of creating art is inseparable from its appreciation, originality is important. If you believe art should be judged solely on the basis of the object and its beauty as you see it, the copy is as good as the original.

I see where you’re going, but how does her being personally invested in the situation factor in? She’s personally invested because it’s her relationship; he’s not invested because it’s not his relationship their acting out(?). But how does this connect to the art example? If someone has a positive experience with an artwork—and it turns out to be a copy—one’s experience can still be positive. But how can the woman’s experience be positive with the copy of her husband?

So when the man starts taking the part of her absent husband, they are both putting the theory to practice.

Yes, that’s what it felt like to me, too.

This question drives to the very nature of art. Is art a physical object or a sentimental object? Is art judged simply based on what you can see and hear, or is it inseparable from its generation?

There’s a couple of issues here. First, there’s the matter of monetary value of an artwork. Let’s push that issue aside. Then there’s the issue of…“credit.” What I mean is who should get the credit for an artwork. A good work of art requires talent, creativity, thoughtfulness and the individual who made the art has to come up with the idea and way of expressing that idea. To replicate such an artwork requires skill and maybe talent, but very little creativity and thought. So while a copy may create a good artistic experience, the credit belongs to the person who originally created the artwork. If our experience of the art is all that matters, then whether the artwork is a copy or not probably shouldn’t matter.

But is the film really exploring this issue? It starts off that way—in the lecture and the initial conversation. But it sort of feels like a jumping off point for this other way of thinking of originality—namely, the beginning of a relationship versus an older relationship.

Or is the film exploring both senses of originality at the same time?