Prompted by Conor King
Truth and fiction can often be presented as binaries, mutually exclusive categories by which to sort experience or information, yet the act of defining a subject as either truth or fiction is often an oversimplification that requires a much more nuanced approach. Truth and fiction often represent endpoints on a spectrum by which to plot complex subject matter. At a place in time when we are asked to sift through an increasing amount of information, the dichotomy between truth or fiction seems to present an efficient manner by which to sort information, but is it a method lacking the subtlety to properly understand the information we are presented with?
Truth: fact, certainty, veracity, actuality… Many believe that science presents complete truths discovered through experimentation, data collection and evidence. Religions also seek and present truth through text, prayer, devotion, and belief. In both cases, the search for truth is the search for meaning, the search to understand the world we live in, the time before us, the time after us, and the yet to be seen places we believe to exist.
Truth is filtered through an observer, statistician, scientist – a person. As we learn more about the influences and biases we all carry – influences of personal experience, class, gender, political views, belief systems, neighborhood, education, and the like – how do we know the truth and how do we identify interpretations of the truth?
Fiction: invention, fabrication, fantasy, untruth… Fiction can provide a respite from reality, by way of a story, daydream, or performance. Fiction can also be a lie, purposeful deceit. Fictions are created by artists and performers, to entertain, enlighten and even connect one to the truth. They can also be used to create deception causing the acceptance of falsity as truth.
Fiction can have a lifespan that weaves its way toward truth. Such is the case for a myth later “proven” to be true or a hypothesis with enough evidence that it is found to be correct. Is it possible that the science fictions, premonitions, and dreams of today will be facts tomorrow?
The difference between truth and fiction is often a challenge to untangle. How do we correct our understanding of the past when historical truths are fraught with issues of authorship? How do we understand the present with curated online personas, digital manipulation, and privately founded social interest groups who seek to influence opinions? What does the future hold with the integration of augmented and viral realities? Will laws and morals help to protect the truth, or will the dichotomy of truth and fiction become a quaint ideal? Can we even discuss truth and fiction as a dichotomy or are the two much more complex than a simple either-or scenario?
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By Hal Arkowitz, Scott O. Lilienfeld
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Crowds On Demand
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(website / company)
Newt Gingrich CNN Interview at the 2016 RNC – Feelings vs Fact
Part of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” HBO show
(2 min YouTube video)
All I Wanna Do Is Zoom Zoom Zoom Zoom
January 27, 2009
May 21, 2012
(70 min podcast)
About the Prompter
Conor King is an artist based in Denver, Colorado whose work is rooted in the medium of photography. His work focuses on myth, truth, the uncanny, the fantastical, and the human condition. He investigates these concepts through photography, maquettes, optical devises, video, and digital manipulation.
King received his BFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his MFA from Pratt Institute. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, and he has curated exhibitions in Colorado. King was a RedLine artist and a founding member of Tank Studios. He served on the Board of Directors at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center where he also assisted with exhibition development. King teaches courses on photography at the University of Colorado Denver and owns and operates Third Dune Productions, a video production and photo services company.