September 22, 2006

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

one of these things is too much like the other...

One of my favourite Cultural Studies texts, of course, is The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin. I'll discuss this monumental piece in greater detail in future posts but for now, while I prepare to go mushroom foraging in the woods in the rain tomorrow, here is some food for thought:

"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. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original. The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. "

The entire essay can be read here. Amazing, isn't it, how some Marxist theory from 1935 can still be so relevant today?

How then, can we observe the "aura" of Kaisik Wong (top, 1970s) in the Balenciaga (bottom, 2002)? Nicholas Ghesquière might be a genius for Fall 2006 but I still do not quite forgive him for this trespass.

1 comment:

MYRIADE said...


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