In his famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Walter Benjamin argues for how modern modes of technical reproduction—especially film—have affected the authority or “aura” of art objects. Substituting the “unique existence” of the art object with “a plurality of copies,” he contends, diminishes the mystique of art and, in making art available to the public, results in new modes of perception, new publics, and new types of politics. This research community continues Benjamin’s investigation into the relationship dynamics  between art and mechanical reproduction in three general ways: by examining the cultural persistence or performance of “aura” or originality; by studying modes of artistic creation like appropriation that mediate between originality and reproducibility; and by studying automatic art, a logical extension and even endpoint of mechanical reproducibility.

Willamette University

Liberal Arts Research Collaborative

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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