Mechanical Reproduction

Topics: Art, Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci Pages: 2 (842 words) Published: October 30, 2010
Throughout history we have seen much technological advancement and progression especially after the Industrial Revolution. This in turn also filled in many of the gaps that once divided the elites from the commons, the Bourgeoisie from the Proletariat. As Walter Benjamin defines it – it was mechanical reproduction of artwork that the capitalists in power and laymen alike were able to experience without the limitations of financial shortcomings for either class. In this essay I will discuss this concept in light of Benjamin’s famous piece entitled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Mechanical reproduction allows for us to easily reproduce artwork in different forms. However, this process also takes artwork further away from its aura; in other words it “ritual meaning, authenticity, uniqueness and distance.” Aura is defined by Benjamin as the “work of art’s aesthetic value gained through its uniqueness.” Before we even had the ability and tools to reproduce art, its true value was confined because it was the only one of its kind. For example, someone who has always heard of the Mona Lisa but never seen it reproduced holds more value than those who have seen numerous reproductions. The true value of Da Vinci’s masterpiece is secured only in its original form. Value is also instilled into artwork because of its distance, referring to not only location but its difficulty or impossibility to be reproduced; it is in essence further from possibilities of being re-created. Such an example would be the pyramids. Now it is true that I can remove the distance between myself and the pyramids by going to Egypt, but it is also true that this is one of the most difficult if not impossible artworks in history to be reproduced. It is unique in creation and construction. Once art loses this aura and ritual value, art is forced to find meaning through its exhibition value. Art that can be easily reproduced then moves itself away from the...
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