Faking it

Faking it
14-21 March 2020

London’s Natural History
22–28 October 2017

Stoffcoupon, H-Design for Mira-X, Mira Ligneus. Design: Trix & Robert Haussmann 1980. Image: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, ZHdK
Rowley Way, Neave Brown, 1972-78

The Ise Jingu Shrine in Mie Prefecture, Japan is a reproduction. It has been demolished and rebuilt from scratch on a 20-year cycle 63 times, holding it in a paradoxical state; forever new and forever ancient and original. Is the temple a fake? What is a fake? Forgery, fabrication, fake and feign all have their etymological origins in words for the inventive acts of shaping and moulding. Can we consider the art of forgery, then to be a valuable creative act, a form of cultural heritage?

The 1972 John Berger BBC series, ‘Ways of Seeing’ begins with the presenter cutting a face from Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, a disturbing and provocative act even seen on YouTube almost 50 years later. This face has however already been extracted and distributed millions of times in catalogues, posters, books, catalogues, films, copies and fakes through photography and reproductions. The meaning of a painting no longer resides in its unique painted surface, nor on its immediate context.

We know most of the works of art that we love by looking at them in reproduction. It is images of these reproductions that we look at in books and carry around in our heads, yet being face to face with the originals can give us a qualitatively different experience. Vernon Lee describes this real relationship with physical artworks as a spontaneous and organic attraction, an immanent and unconscious relationship with the things in her environment. But can a forgery incite the same phenomena? “The important decision to make when you are talking about the genuine quality of a painting’ explains Clifford Irving, biographer of famed forger Elmyr de Hory, ‘is not so much whether it’s a real painting or a fake; it’s whether it’s a good fake or a bad fake.’

Factum Arte are masters of this kind of forgery, in its most creative sense. A non-profit foundation operating out of Madrid, they have worked globally to analyse and reproduce some of the most famous, delicate and revered pieces of art, sculpture and architecture. Their inventions to digitally capture and reproduce the colour, surface, forma and texture of an object lead us to question the value we place on authenticity. If a fresco now housed in a museum was intended to be viewed in the damp dark of a venetian church interior, what is the more authentic experience, the fake in the original location or the original on the wall of a museum?

We will spend the week primarily learning the techniques involved in the fakery of materials, whilst also reading, thinking and discussing our preconceptions with originallity and authenticity. We will be physically and digitally surveying an interior with the help of Factum Arte and also learning the techniques of trompe l’oeil painting with Fontana & Fontana. At the end of the week we will have all of the knowledge and skills to reproduce this room at the ETH, which we are offering as a Vertiefungsarbeit over the summer of 2020.

London has never accepted master planning and does not accept concepts of any kind. It is disordered, mercantile, opportunistic, at times vulgar but always with an eye for a refined detail. Whether in architecture or in fashion or even in landscapes, unruliness is the natural setting for supremely elegant sequences grafted into the clumsy and the unkempt so easily that a natural order must be hiding in plain sight. London’s tolerance and accommodating character, just like its citizens, is bound together by a perpetual natural history; parks, gardens and river that weave throughout London’s natural history joining humans and architecture to trees, grasses, flowers, birds, insects, clay and gravel, the past to the present, growth to decay, the visible to the unseen.

Walking from the inland west to the maritime east, we shall go in search of London, which despite its best efforts to avoid the singular in favour of the plural, has one body and one heart that can be found in every brick and every blade of grass however carefully or careless arranged.

London, 22–28 October 2017
max. 750CHF min. 12; max 21 students

14-21 March 2020

Price Range B

21 students max

A fragment embedded in Alexander Pope’s Grotto, Twickenham, 1720-44
Marius Fontana demonstrating timber paint technique. Image: SRF, Claudia Herzog
Crossing the Thames on the Twickenham Ferry
Scagliola Column. Image: Hayles & Howe
The Thames landscape seen from Richmond Hill
House in the Mountains, Tschiertschen, Caruso St John Architects. Image: Helene Binet
Visiting the Lisson Gallery, Lisson Grove. Tony Fretton, 1986–92
Mosaic woodwork, Studiolo, Urbino, 1473 to 1476. Image:
Juergen Teller’s studio, 6a architects
Fragment of a previous building in a courtyard garden at Juergen Teller’s studio
Da Capo Bar, Zürich, Trix & Robert Haussmann, 1981
The earth-filled timber framework of a roof-top yurt at Peter Salter’s Walmer Yard
3D render of the colour and relief information recorded by GSAPP student Andre Paul Jauregui at Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice
Visiting The Economist Building, St James’. Alison and Peter Smithson, 1962–4
3D render of the colour and relief information recorded by GSAPP student Andre Paul Jauregui at Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice
The tower of Bankside, and the view to the City from the extension to Tate Modern, Herzog & de Meuron, 2016
3D render of the colour and relief information recorded by GSAPP student Halley E. Ramos at Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice
Mudlarking on the north bank of the Thames
3D render of the colour and relief information recorded by GSAPP student Halley E. Ramos at Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice
Spoils of mudlarking
Josef Albers’s Drawing Class, Black Mountain College, ca. 1939-1940. Photograph likely taken at the Blue Ridge campus. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.
Walkway of the Southmere Estate, Thamesmead, by the team of the Greater London Council (GLC) led by division architect Robert Rigg

This series of seminar weeks explores our physical and emotional connection with the world around us. Focusing on different materials and actions we will investigate the process by which things are made at both the scale of the factory and the craftsman. Literature, film, and technology will guide and frame the way we look at these processes of making and we will use our own hands and bodies to explore each theme. Weaving, Firing, Casting, Carving, Moving, Forging, Preserving.

We will work in small groups of 12 students and each seminar week will be accompanied by a specific reading which we will discuss over the course of the week. By keeping travelling to a minimum, each seminar week will be affordably priced below 500CHF.

Ruins of Lesnes Abbey, Abbey Wood, with the Southmere Estate beyond
Downriver Thames, the view towards the Barking Creek Barrier
Entrance to the Red House, Chelsea. Tony Fretton, 2001