Friday, January 09, 2009

Why Cats Paint

In discussing the story of the toddler artist in The Age and questions of fraud and hoax and pranks, we have acknowledged that sometimes "hoaxes" can serve a good purpose.

I agree - but not if they set out intentionally to deceive and harm.

It is possible to do exactly the same thing that James McAuley and Katherine Wilson did - that is, to take the mickey out of someone by publishing a "fake" which shows up the pretensions of others - without setting out to dishonestly deceive or personally harm anyone.

In other words, you can make your "hoax" look just like the real thing, but publish it in such a way that everyone realises that it is a "hoax" and all are "in on the joke". That way, top marks are achieved for "cultural jamming" (as I think it is called) and yet everyone gets a good laugh and no-one goes away with damaged reputation.

Some years ago I came across an excellent example of this: a book that was so seriously "tongue-in-cheek", which never once let the curtain fall to allow the viewer to see the trick behind it, and yet which was obviously a joke.

I am speaking about the inestimable work "Why Cats Paint", from which the art work at the top of this blog entry is taken. Today this work is going as strong as ever and even has its own web page. Take a look.

And if you still don't get the joke, check out these videos:

And if you enjoyed that, you can check out "Dancing with Cats"...

Isn't good honest fun so much better than deceit and slander?


At Friday, January 09, 2009 6:33:00 pm , Blogger Paul said...

Hi David,
I can see your point about deceit being wrong even if it demonstrates a point. For example, I once read of (and actually met, unknowingly) a well-known con-man who had free dinners and hotel stays on the basis that he claimed to be a minor European prince, and defrauded rich people by telling them he could make them even richer. It's hard not to have a secret snigger over someone who preys on other's ego and greed, but of course it, itself does add to the world's total of evil.

Also, hoaxers don't convince the victims of their own errors. In the case of the Ern Malley/Angry Penguins hoax by James McAuley, I believe the editors of the Angry Penguin magazine claim that McAuley actually wrote worthwhile poetry in his attempt to deceive them. McAuley says he wrote it over a weekend and it was rubbish, but that did not convice Max Harris et al.
So deceitful methods can be funny, but they might not achieve anything.


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