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For ARIN6903, Exploring Digital Cultures, MDCC, The University of Sydney.

For ARIN6903, Exploring Digital Cultures, MDCC, The University of Sydney.



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Arin6903(walterbenjamin) Arin6903(walterbenjamin) Presentation Transcript

  • The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935)Walter Benjamin
    César Albarrán Torres
  • Works of art have always been reproducible (replicas for training, diffusing work and monetary gain), but mechanical reproduction is new.
    Lithography: new stage as it enabled graphic art to illustrate everyday life.
    Reproduction acquires place of its own in artistic process. Warhol, Posadas and others understood this.
  • The many faces of Monalisa
  • What a reproduction lacks…
    Presence in time and space (how do we define these in the 21st century)?
    History of ownership and physical condition.
    Authenticity: “The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical– and of course, not only technical.” (Benjamin, 1935: 214)
    The quality of the presence and the historical testimony of a work of art is depreciated.
  • Where does digital reproduction fit?
    “Process reproduction is more independent of the original than manual reproduction.” (Ibidem)
    “[…] technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself.” (Ibidem)
  • Did Michelangelo intend this?
  • Aura
    “[…] that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art.” (Benjamin, 1935: 215)
    Aura: “uniqueness of a work of art”, “inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition”.
    A work of art is never separated from its “ritual function”.
  • Aura: a psychotic example
  • Resonance in the digital age
    “It is easier to exhibit a portrait bust that can be sent here and there than to exhibit a statue of a divinity that has its fixed place in the interior of a temple.” (219)
    “In photography, exhibition value begins to displace cult value all along the line.”(Ibidem)
    Film actor: “His creation is by no means all of a piece, it is composed of many different performances.” (Ibidem)
  • Resonance in the digital age
    “Thus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character […] the reader gains access to authorship.” (Benjamin, 1935)
    Produsage(2008): “Users who participate in […] processes of massively parallelized and decentralized creativity and innovation in myriads of enthusiast communities do no longer produce content, ideas, and knowledge in a way that resembles traditional, industrial modes of production” (Bruns, 2008) For extended, updated information visit:
  • Massive simultaneous reception
    “Simultaneous collective experience” Benjamin identified in film, multiplied by X factor in the Internet.
    www.fat-pie.comFlash animations by David Firth, reproduction part of aura.
  • Original?
    What is the original work of art in digital creations? Does the aura still exist?