Prototypalism is the concept of basing works or actions on prototypes. The opposite concept would be to base everything off of a blank slate — to start everything from scratch, every time.

Monomorphization of forms, a product of prototypalist design, has generated new collective rituals, like the “swiping” of a touchscreen phone. Hyper-prototypalism ends in the reduction of forms down to their very bottom — to nothingness, the most generic of all forms. This product deserves to be remembered, as in Rodin’s Hand of God, but with an empty hand.

Benign prototypalism

Benign prototypalism refers to the everyday behavior of making copies of other things to use as a legitimate basis for one’s work. It is not the same as plagiarism. Ordinary examples:

Though benign, many forms of prototypalism lead to monocultures:


If benign prototypalism is about making a copy less generic (i.e. more personal to oneself), hyper-prototypalism is making a copy that is just as or possibly even more generic than the original.

A common example of hyper-prototypalism in the consumer world would be what are called “knock-offs” — imitations designed to make money by riding purely on the popularity of the original:

An extreme example of hyper-prototypalism can be seen in plastic surgery, where many patients seek to look like someone else, or to possess some generic form of “beauty”.

Machines can make copies far more efficiently than humans can. Deepfake is an example of the most radical form of hyper-prototypalism. It is a technique for creating fake videos and photos of people through artificial intelligence, such as replacing an actor’s face in a movie.