The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Walter Benjamin

And what of the work of art in the age of digital reproduction? Is there any aura, that semi-religious sense of being in contact with the unique and the remote, shining from a computer screen? If cultic value has vanished and technologies of reproduction and dissemination have effectively reduced display value to nil, does the work of art (debased in today’s vocabulary to “content”) have any value left beyond providing distraction for the masses? “All persons today can stake a claim to being filmed.” And they stake it on their blogs and webcams. In doing so have people lost their personal aura as individual human beings, becoming simply more content or (what’s worse) mere statistics? Benjamin’s essay, obscure and I think dated in many ways, does raise some interesting questions about how far we’ve traveled down the long slide.

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