Monday, September 20, 2010

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

In Walter Benjamin’s writing, The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936), he touches upon key points discussing the influence of mass production, photography, and film. A byproduct of mass production was the loss of uniqueness within art. A single piece now has the ability to exist in more than one location, taking away its exclusivity. However, the removal of this exclusivity allows the work to be viewed by a larger audience, reactivating its importance. The invention of photography brought with it new ways of viewing the world. Photography has the ability to capture things unseen by the naked eye. Film was the next step in mass production. It had, and still has the capacity to express dreams and fantasies as reality. The only thing separating our minds from the fantasy of film is the unseen equipment used in its production. The ability of art to be seen by a larger audience due to mass production created a more progressive environment for artistic change.

As a printmaker, my work is considered one of the earlier forms of mass production. It is interesting to think that because I work in multiples, my art may not carry the same influence as a painting. I feel however, that because of my ability to work in editions, I can match the influence exuded by painting simply because my work can reach a larger audience.

1. Do the pros of mechanical reproduction outweigh the cons?

2. Does film separate ourselves too far from reality?

3. Is traditional lithography still considered mass production within a culture of laser-jet printers?

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