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F.I.R.E. [first issue reserved edition]

F.I.R.E., or First Issue Reserved Edition, is a "unique collection of U.S. postage stamps" created by a self-described "terrorist/artist living and working in New York's East Village." The F.I.R.E. web site displays its  stamps under three categories: life, people, and commemoratives. Most enshrine ideas, people, or objects of American culture that would never appear on official U.S. postage stamps: guns, the homeless, friendly fire, Jack Kevorkian, Waco. A stamp commemorating the atomic bomb is captioned "shame on US".

Dictionary of the Khazars

The Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel was written by the Serbian novelist Milorad Pavic (1984). As the subtitle impies, the novel takes the form of a lexicon or encyclopedia; indeed, it comprises three parallel, cross-referenced lexicons, in each of which the entries are constructed from the point of view of one of the three religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Dictionary of Received Ideas

Gustave Flaubert, The Dictionary of Received Ideas (Le Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues): Flaubert created this short dictionary of platitudes and silly ideas in the 1870s, but it was not published for another forty years. Both a spoof of the idea of dictionaries and encyclopedias as compendia of useful or important information, and an actual dictionary of sorts, it is a precursor of later fictive art projects involving encyclopedias (e.g. the Codex Seraphinianus).

Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary: A satirical dictionary published in 1911 that lampoons commonplace notions. Both a spoof of the idea of dictionaries and encyclopedias as compendia of useful or important information, and an actual dictionary of sorts, it is a precursor of later fictive art projects involving encyclopedias (e.g. the Codex Seraphinianus). Along with Gustave Flabert's Dictionary of Received Ideas (published around the same time), it has inspired a host of subsequent mock dictionaries.

Cottingley fairies (Elsie Wright + Frances Griffiths)

Beginning in 1917, two English girls, Elsie Wright (1901-88) and Frances Griffiths (1907-86), made a series of five photographs that purported to show them with real fairies. Although suspected as fakes from the outset, the controversy over their status continued for decades.

Cottingley fairy photo

Codex Seraphinianus

Originally published in Italy in 1981, the Codex Seraphinianus appears to be an encyclopedia for a world very different from Earth. It is profusely illustrated with colored-pencil drawings of fantastic beings, many of which are hybrids between categories that we generally consider wholly separate: animal-machine, vegetable-mineral.

Circular River Project

Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn's Circular River project (1998-99) is a fictive photodocumentary purporting to tell the story of a 1944 British "Royal Excavation Corps" expedition to Siberia in search of Peter Hesselbach, a downed German glider pilot.

Chien DĂ©licieux, Le

Le Chien Délicieux is an ethnographic quasi-documentary by Ken Feingold.

Breitmore, Roberta (Lynn Hershman Leeson)

Between 1974 and 1978, pioneering new media artist Lynn Hershman (now Hershman Leeson) created an elaborate alter ego for herself as Roberta Breitmore.

Bouvard and PĂ©cuchet

 Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pecuchet (Bouvard et Pécuchet ): This satirical 1881 novel follows the adventures of two inept Parisian clerks who retire to the country to pursue knowledge. They stumble through one field after another, failing spectacularly at them all: agriculture, gardening, medecine, architecture, etc. Their almost insane pursuit of personal reinvention through a series of professional identities marks this as a precursor of fictive art 'impersonation' projects.

Boggs, JGS

JGS Boggs is an artist known for making meticulously rendered drawings of currency. Instead of selling these one-sided "Boggs bucks" for money, Boggs attempts to use the art as money, in exchange for goods and services. He does not consider the artwork complete until such a transaction has taken place with one of his bills (or "notes", as he prefers to call them).

Abel, Alan

Alan Abel (b. 1930) is a prolific contemporary hoaxster who refers to himself as a "professional prankster". Abel is perhaps best known for his creation in the late 1950s of a fictive organization called the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals. SINA's expressed goal of clothing all animals for the sake of modesty afforded Abel a framework within which to put forward a critique of censorship. This initially light-hearted prank gained currency when it was picked up by the mass media and treated as a serious topic, making Abel an early media jammer.