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The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical ReproductionDas Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeitby Walter Benjaminis an essay of cultural criticism which proposes that the aura of a work of art is devalued by mechanical reproduction. The subject and themes of the essay have much influenced the fields of art history and architectural theoryand of cultural studies and media theory.
Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose zeeitalter of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours.
But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used seuner be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power. For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial.
We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.
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The Preface presents Marxist analyses of the construction of society and of the place of art in a capitalist society; and explains the socio-economic conditions to extrapolate future developments of capitalism, which, ultimately, result in the exploitation of the proletariat, and produce the social conditions that would abolish capitalism.
Benjamin reviews the development of the means of the mechanical reproduction of art—an artist manually copying the work of a master artist; the industrial arts of the foundry and the stamp mill in Ancient Greece; woodcut relief-printingetchingengravinglithographyand photography —to establish that artistic reproduction is zeittalter a modern human activity, and that the modern means of artistic reproduction permit greater accuracy throughout the process of mass production.
Benjamin discusses the concept of authenticityof being in accordance with fact, noting that “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 techniwchen be. The action of mechanical reproduction diminishes the original art work by changing the cultural context original vs.
Benjamin’s concept of the aura of a work of art derived from the work of Reproduzierbarkwit Klages.
File:Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (Dritte Fassung).pdf
That the social value of a work of art changes as society change their value systems, which accounts for the changes in artistic style and in the cultural taste of the public; “the manner in which human sense-perception is organized, the [artistic] medium in which it is accomplished, is determined not only by Nature, but by historical circumstances as well. Despite the socio-cultural effects of reproduction-art upon the original work of art, Benjamin said that “the uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being embedded in the fabric of tradition”, which separates the original work of art from the reproduction.
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction much influenced the intellectualism of the Frankfurt Schoolespecially the aesthetic and political analyses of Theodor W. AdornoMax Horkheimerand Herbert Marcuse.
In the late 20th century, in the television program Ways of SeeingJohn Berger drew from the themes of Walter Benjamin’s essay, and explained the contemporary representations of social-class and racial-caste in the production of art. That the modern means of artistic production and of artistic reproduction have destroyed the aesthetic, cultural, and political authority of art: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere.
Das KUNSTWERK Im Zeitalter Seiner Technischen Reproduzierbarkeit 9783518461969
Benjamin for ArchitectsRoutledge, London, Western MarxismLondon: The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School. Cornell University Press, New York, Penguin Books, London,pp.
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