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Rocio- Repsonse to Walter Benjamin

October 21, 2009

Walter Benjamin’s essay on how mechanical reproduction technologies have impacted the work of art and the audience’s experience of it reveals an interesting perspective on authenticity and originality. Benjamin explains that new technologies are changing art and affecting the way audiences interpret it. The reproduction of art using film, photography and other emerging technologies causes the original to lose its “aura,” interpreted as the originality of art that has not been reproduced. He also argues that the imitation of art removes the original from its particular time and space. Moreover, Benjamin adds that mechanical reproducibility places an “absolute emphasis [art’s] exhibition value,” rather than cult value. This in turn causes the value of art to be placed in its ability to be displayed, rather than in its mere existence.

Although Benjamin brings up important concerns about originality and discusses the detrimental effects of mechanical reproduction, I see several positive aspects relating to imitation and reproduction. First, reproduction technologies provide more visibility and makes art more accessible to greater audiences. It also has the ability to provide more insight to the original work and may revive interest or discussion that may have been forgotten. Additionally, as similar as two pieces of art may be, no two works are exactly the same. I feel that the positive side of this is that every artist can add a unique quality or characteristic to an original. Overall, I think that as long as the original is not forgotten, replicas do not pose a problem. For instance, in class we discussed the Marcus Aurelius statue that is a replica of another located in Italy. I feel that having the replica on a college campus is fine as long as the fact that the original was meant for a different location and had a different context is not forgotten or ignored.


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