What do the recipient of the first AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, a 1920s psychic detective and the creator of a Perpetual Motion Machine all have in common?
The answer is that each one was either the victim or author of a celebrated hoax – and thus appears in the Museum of Revelatory Fakes, a new digital collaboration between our Senior Research Fellow Professor Patricia Kingori and artist Al Hopwood.
The Museum of Revelatory Fakes will explore each of these stories, and others, through a combination of creative responses to the original fake, archival material and podcast interviews with the key players. In reflecting on the significance of each story from multiple angles, Kingori and Hopwood ask important questions about the power of fakes in today’s society and their potential to be used in the pursuit both of discovery and misinformation.
The Museum of Revelatory Fakes (MoRF) began life in 2021 as an artistic and curatorial response by Al Hopwood to Professor Kingori’s research into the fake in global health. Recognising a shared interest in the impacts of misinformation from a psychological and sociological perspective, Kingori and Hopwood conceived the MoRF as a digital space in which to consider the potential for fakes to reveal hidden truths as well as the ethics of using fakes as a revelatory or investigative method.
(I-r) Early attempts to contradict disinformation about Dr Elisa Granato; David EH Jones with his perpetual motion machine; some of the many guises adopted by psychic detective Rose Mackenberg to investigate psychic fraud
The home of the project is the MoRF website, which now features its first five case studies. The first episode features an interview between Professor Kingori and Dr Elisa Granato, the first person to receive the pioneering Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, who subsequently became the victim of a bizarre death hoax.
Speaking about the project, Professor Kingori said, ‘The idea that generating new fakes might be useful in revealing and reflecting on other fakes was such an interesting one. I have really enjoyed bringing this idea to life and curating this group of interesting people to address the subject of the revelatory fake.’
MoRF is a partnership between Professor Patricia Kingori, Senior Research Fellow at Somerville College, and the artist Al Hopwood. Professor Kingori is a sociologist affiliated with both the Ethox Centre and Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities. Her work focuses on the ethics of global health and her recent Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Fakes, Fabrications and Falsehoods in Global Health’ research project is exploring concerns about the roles that fakes, authenticity and quality play in global health. Al Hopwood is an award-winning visual and conceptual artist whose recent work includes the False Memory Archive and a major curatorial project, Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic at the Wellcome Collection.