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I eat my Kway Teow with a Falz.

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ImageScreen Shot 2013-05-18 at 9.58.27 PMScreen Shot 2013-05-18 at 10.00.54 PM

In some strange parallel, this week we had a short weekly response to the readings for out Introduction to Design Anthropology class, in which the following question was posed:

“Select an object, communication, environment, or interface and describe what meaning it might have for someone who sees it as a source of pleasure and someone who sees it as a source of fear.  Explain why it would mean that to them”

I’d just read a research paper by Pham and Teah entitled “Devil wear (counterfeit) Prada: a study of antecedents and outcomes of attitudes towards counterfeits of luxury goods”, as well as a paper by McCracken, a well know (it seems) researcher on cultural meaning and consumerism.

The other side to this parallel was a post on Facebook by well known Italian bicycle framebuilding artisan and painter, Dario Pegoretti.  Dario was a tad upset at the way a transaction had played out.  From what I can gather, the customer requested that this fork (see above) be painted to match his frame, and according to him, Dario had refused and sent him a plain white fork, which he thought artistically suited the frame better:

“This paintjob is not a work of mine and i cannot understand what’s the pleasure to copy someone else’s job. The fork is a Falz that originally was delivered in plain white
because in my opinion this was the best solution to match the frame. A good idea for the next year is to deliver all the frames in solid white color without any decals so everyone can do whatever he likes .
So at least you will have to stimulate the mind and the creativity.”

In a completely bumblingly insensitive and disrespectful way, the owner of the fork employed a local painter to paint the fork to match (or complement) the paintwork of the frame. As is always the case with Facebook, the comments came pouring in from everyone who even remotely had an opinion on the topic.  Myself included, of course:

“This is incredibly dumb. It’s like having a Picasso and deciding it would look better as a Triptych.”

Granted this was a bit obscure, but what I was trying to get at is that you don’t buy a piece of art, and then decide you want more to go with it so you paint a couple more yourself to match.  It’s culturally (and ethically) wrong on just so many levels, I’m not even sure where to start.  The owner went into what seems like a very ill-equipped damage control, still obviously not 100% sure exactly what he did wrong:

Please allow me to share with u some of the point here.
Mad studio did not claim this is Master Dario work, and trust me he did not do it in purpose.

[Yes, he did do it on purpose, you asked him to]

From the link that “master Dario” shown if u had carefully read it u may know this is not the original plan at the first at the 1st place.
His intention is to fulfill his customer dream as his tag line and he live his words. I had requested Him to match the frame.

[So you actively ignored his advise?]

By chance it happened I can accept the and I like it personally, don’t get me wrong I like it not because he copy “master Dario” work. I like it simply because his hard work and persistent to do it knowing it won’t be appreciate by most of the people.

[It’s difficult to appreciate the copy of the original when it shows almost none of the creativity needed to create the original itself]

That also the reason he had atoganise some of the request form other Pego owner. To me If you look carefully it’s different (Michael’s own interpretation) yet matches perfectly.

[And that makes it okay how exactly?]

If u think to do it, is as easy as copy and paste I would that u all are way too under estimate “Master Dario” work and on the same time u had over estimate all the air brusher or painter Around the world.
IMHO, I might not be 100% correct but it is not EASY at all to follow the concept and match the master piece. As he is not the creator of this art.

[Copying ain’t easy huh? I’ll try that during my next exam and see how much sympathy I get]

I think it’s fair to say what we have here is a breakdown in communication, and a naive assumption on behalf of the customer that culturally, both himself and Dario have the same value system imbued by their cultures in respect to intellectual property and artistic value.  I got into a spot of bother when I did some digging and found out that the painter was from Malacca in Malaysia, to which I quipped “Ah, the painter is in Malaysia, that explains it”.  Suffice to say, that didn’t go down so well, especially with the original customers’ friend, who is clearly very protective of his country, even when it’s not under attack or criticism (I’m sure we’ll have some great conversations about Anwar Ibrahim and Malaysia’s laughable ‘free elections’ in the future).  He went to a lot of effort to finely craft this put-down he sent to me in a private message:

Screw n mother fucker oz
I beg u dun even own a pego loser

This is exactly the issue I have with nationalism and cultural isolationist/superiority tendencies in people, because it’s a deliberate self-supporting framework of self-righteous indignation and conflict that can easily be avoided by educating yourself and having an open mind and inquisitive world-view.  Neither the owner of the frame and fork nor his ‘friend’ has any of these positive traits.  The owner of the fork in his comments shows he has absolutely no understanding of the cultural differences or any attempt to understand them, and his reaction in my view is simply a reactionary one for fear of ostracization by fellow Pegoretti owners, the custom framebuilding community and the artist himself.  It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

So what’s the grand message here?  Well obviously cultural sensitivity and understanding how different cultures view ideas of intellectual property, artistic endeavour is clearly an important one!  On a personal level, I still can’t fathom intellectually how it can get to a level within ANY culture that creativity can be devalued to the point that it’s value is viewed only in the ability to mechanically engage in the act.  Ideas are important, strangely enough, and if you devalue them and erode the reward system for actually having them, then as a society you have some serious problems.

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