Reading 1- “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction” -Walter Benjamin

Reading Reflection

“The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction”
-Walter Benjamin

This article demonstrates the situation of artwork’s reproduction according to political (such as the situation of proletariat), history (about the capitalistic), the transform and change of technology and the artwork’s uniqueness and permanence. In addition, the author talked about the function of artwork.
The author used film and photography as two wonderful examples to demonstrate his idea about reproduction of artwork.
Some parts of this article impressed me a lot. “The Greeks knew only two procedures of technically reproducing works of art: founding and stamping.”(321). Actually, I can’t comprehensively to understand this sentence. It sounds like a kind of original methods to duplicate some work of art. But I suppose in that period, maybe the work of art is not the “real” artwork or “pure” art. In the iv part, the author mentioned “the earliest art works originated in the service of a ritual”, so we can imagine the different meaning of reproduction of artwork or non-artwork.
In addition, according to author’s perspective, “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.”(322). From that, I think, in some extent, the work of art can’t be reproduction, because the original one have the specific context including time, space and all of this elements is temporary and specific. Such as the philosopher Socrates said:Man can’t set foot in two rivers at the same time. Same with the artwork, we can duplicate an artwork through many kinds of methods, but we can’t copy the same history point and situation in that time when artist create it based on certain and specific sentimental element.
Work of art was used for “Cult value” and “exhibition value”. But in the article, the author didn’t talk about the context and further background to define these two terms. I think if we want to understand more about the two terms, we need explore more examples and evidences about it because now the “Cult value” may be far from our contemporary society.


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