Or here's another one: what if imitating the rose means imitating its constituent parts?
What if we decide that the real rose is its DNA? Would the complete DNA sequence for a rose be an adequate representation of the rose? Would it be art?
Or what if we decide that the representation must be a digital one, and we take apart the rose into infinitesimal parts and duplicate them in another medium? Would we then have a faithful imitation of the rose? Would it be imitation, or duplication? Or, would there be a loss of something essential to the rose to do this, thus making it no longer duplication, but imitation again?
All this becomes more complex as we think in terms of the imitative possibilities of modern technology. Indeed, there may come a time when we are so good at duplicating something that we can have something essentially identical. The replicator on Star Trek is like this. Thousands of "copies", all identical, all perfect. In fact, we might wonder whether there was ever an original at all.
Was there ever an original of a Canadian dollar coin (the "loonie), for instance? I don't mean the templates that are used to strike the coin. Those are a technical means of production, not an original that all the copies are modelled after. Even if there was an original, does there need to be one? Does the (visual or monetary) value of the money depend in any way on there being an original that the money resembles?
We do know about counterfeiting, of course. But what is counterfeiting? Is it making an imperfect copy? No, because some of the copies are very good, and we can imagine a copy so good that it would fool everyone. The problem with counterfeiting is not that the representation is imperfect, but that it is unauthorized.
Is the same true for counterfeiting art? People make copies of famous paintings all the time. Some intend to deceive others by it, others do it for different reasons. Is the problem that the counterfeit art is unauthorized, and what would an authorized copy be? One where the artist got paid, or gave his or her permission?
Various artists did many copies or versions of a painting that proved popular. Is there a "real" or a "first" one that is more valuable, and if so why?
And, are the later versions representations of the first? Or are they representations of whatever they are depicting? Both? Neither?