Distortionary Dialogues

Questions and quandaries to catalyze abstract or atypical thinking. All manner of responses welcomed.

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Scammin' Season!

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1Scammin' Season! Empty Scammin' Season! on Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:48 pm

Great profile of Anna Delvey, although the more you try to understand what happened the less sense it makes.


Interesting theory about the strength of con artists in confusing and transitional times.


Follow-up questions:
- what is a scam? when does art become artifice? is there a meaningful difference?
- must the scammer believe in the scam in order to lure others into believing in it? what notion of legitimacy is at play in this relationship?
- how could one arrange a scam such that it would still be successful even if the perpetrator was 'caught' in the act of scamming?

"Art is what you can get away with."

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2Scammin' Season! Empty Re: Scammin' Season! on Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:58 pm

These follow-up questions are not urgent, but not rhetorical either.

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3Scammin' Season! Empty Re: Scammin' Season! on Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:43 am

art (n.)

early 13c., "skill as a result of learning or practice," from Old French art (10c.), from Latin artem (nominative ars) "work of art; practical skill; a business, craft," from PIE *ar(ə)-ti- (source also of Sanskrit rtih "manner, mode;" Greek artizein "to prepare"), suffixed form of root *ar- "to fit together." Etymologically akin to Latin arma "weapons."

artifice (n.)
1530s, "workmanship, the making of something by craft or skill," from Middle French artifice "skill, cunning" (14c.), from Latin artificium "a profession, trade, employment, craft; a making by art; a work of art," from artifex (genitive artificis) "craftsman, artist, master of an art" (music, acting, sculpting, etc.), from stem of ars "art" (see art (n.)) + facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Meaning "crafty device, trick" is from 1650s.

also arə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to fit together."

It forms all or part of: adorn; alarm; aristarchy; aristo-; aristocracy; arm (n.1) "upper limb of the body;" arm (n.2) "weapon;" armada; armadillo; armament; armature; armilla; armistice; armoire; armor; armory; army; art (n.) "skill as a result of learning or practice;" arthralgia; arthritis; arthro-; arthropod; arthroscopy; article; articulate; artifact; artifice; artisan; artist; coordination; disarm; gendarme; harmony; inert; inertia; inordinate; ordain; order; ordinal; ordinance; ordinary; ordinate; ordnance; ornament; ornate; primordial; subordinate; suborn.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit irmah "arm," rtih "manner, mode;" Armenian arnam "make," armukn "elbow;" Greek arti "just," artios "complete, suitable," artizein "to prepare," arthron "a joint;" Latin ars (stem art-) "art, skill, craft," armus "shoulder," artus "joint," arma "weapons;" Old Prussian irmo "arm;" German art "manner, mode."

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4Scammin' Season! Empty Re: Scammin' Season! on Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:34 am

Is artifice art? I would say it is, if one considers craft as art.
I think there is a point in time where the idea of skill as art, shifted to concept as art. The first example of this transformation I've always found in Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez. Where the intention was not to simply provide an accurate portrait, but to present a philosophy of representation as well.

Re: scamming: Is the scam a means in itself? Is the scam's only intention to be good at being a scam? What is the "artist's" intention? Is it to present a point or expose a fatal flaw in the system it is scamming?

If the scam elevates to something other than the scam in itself, then it is art (maybe, its complicated). But for this to be the case, the items/information accrued in the scam would need to be of no benefit to the artist. These would only be vestiges of the performance, the tool or skill is not defining the art. This is why I would say the Anna Delvey case is a "craft" or "artifice" over art (she addresses that she had seriously intention to accrue capital to create the foundation). But this again is due to my separation of art from craft.

I think another recent (errr, sort of, think this was maybe ~4 years ago) example that was sort of on the cusp of scam:art duality for me was the "piece" by Amalia Ulman. The piece Excellences & Perfections was a series of instagram portraits (aka selfies) displaying the artist as an "instagram famous" persona, who was vapidly seeking to gain attention/followers and sort of ended up taking on a sugar-baby, LA transplant narrative at it's completion. Was this art? Or a scam? I think there are many dispersed parts of this performance that the artist touches on: (1) ONLINE VS OFFLINE the artist was reprimanded by friends watching this "change" in her social media appearance -- so it began to talk about what a female artist is expected to look like/behave like online (2) ANTI-FEM the sort of shaming of women or the anti-feminist approach to this piece -- using the same tactics as women to gain attention on a social media platform, while the artist laters distances herself from the "basic" personas she was preforming. While it does try to comment on the "female" identity as a performance in itself -- it does this by mocking other women, and I would argue, that it furthers the idea that women need to be conventionally attractive and use their bodies to achieve success (3) Can marketing be art? I wonder, if any humans of the internet era found this as compelling as older art critics/gallerists -- to me, and I assume other young-users of social media, the platforms are inherently performances/branding strategies, and the revelation of someone posturing in order to gain followers or prove a point is not surprising in the slightest.

^sorry for this long-winded description, this was just a piece I considered a good deal when thinking of the "what is art" problem.

In general, I would describe this as a craft or artifice, because the artist was using a tool (social media) to gain popularity. Although, there were many scattered attempts to reveal the performance as art, I think it was more a clever use of a tool and then marketing it towards the right audience. Even if there were a few mission statements behind the series, in the end I think the scam in itself became the interest (the gathering of followers, with a reveal of falsity) more than the meaning behind the performance (which upon every reading seems more and more diluted and sensationalized).

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