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Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Ashley Dethlefsen

November 16, 2009

Age of Mechanical Reproduction – assignment 3

Throughout history printmaking, photography, film, and lithography has been mechanically reproduced, making it easier for people to get their hands on a piece of work when it’s not the original. But does the art still have value? The value of a piece of artwork is important but when replicated the artwork didn’t loose any value, it gains the value of people accepting and wanting that piece of artwork for display. The original piece of artwork is worth hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars, which most can’t afford so making an image replicated makes people appreciate the artwork even more.

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be (Benjamin).” Benjamin mentions how a piece of artwork may have been made once, many years ago and still stands in the one place where produced. Here this image does not get reproduced because of the sculpture and creativity put into it. This forces one to leave their country or home to go visit and experience it. Pictures may be taken of the piece and distributed among others but will not take the value of the sculpture away. These sculptures are valuable in ways how they age over time that it will be impossible to reproduce because of the aging, the breakage, the lines, or even the wear and tear within the piece of artwork.

In today’s society, a simple photograph can be manipulated and turned into someone else’s’ work with the use of programs like Photoshop. A photograph can also make numerous amounts of copies just from the negatives itself. “From a photographic negative, for example, one can make any number of prints; to ask for the authentic print makes no sense.”  (Benjamin) Here Benjamin refers to how you can change your image with the negative when you crop, color correct, and use the features in the programs like I mentioned before, Photoshop. When you change the negative original image it becomes a different type of image. Even if the negative is changed with what you want to make it, it will still be known for the negative it was originally from because it was manipulated into a better looking piece. For example Ansel Adams has changed all her negatives but no matter what it will always remain to be her art because it was her own photos that she has reproduced.

Art has also been believed to been impacted by commodity, “a good which is demand,” and by wealth. Both Duchamp, and Damian Hurish have had an impact. Damian Hurish, a modern artist, sold out his show before the reception. His artwork was so good; he didn’t have a show to present, also known as commodity. Duchamp on the other hand had a different type of impact; his involving every day objects with his signature on display. He had objects like a shovel and urinal on display that would turn into a million dollar display when you can purchase it right in a store. How could a piece like that be worth such high value? Is it because of the name and the creator who thought it would be art? He also makes a lithograph, “an authorized copy of an original work created by the artist himself or other skilled craftsman (wisegeek.com).” This lithograph was of Mona Lisa with a couple marks on the painting itself.

Photography, film, printmaking, and lithographs are available to everyone without seeing the original copy of the work. The value of art being produced in the age of mechanical reproduction will remain the same as long as nothing is changed to the piece of the original.

Work Cited

Benjamin, Walter.  Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.  1935.

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One response »

  1. I enjoyed reading your paper and coming from a photographers point of view, I agree with you.Good job!

    Reply

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