Walter Benjamin claims in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” that works of art have often been reproduced for various reasons. Some of these reasons include educational and monetary gain, and these replicates have been crafted by the hands of men. In this age of mechanical reproduction, however, new technology has made it increasingly easier to reproduce works of art, faster and more efficiently. Of course, the copy still cannot match up to the original in terms of historical value or authenticity.

Douglas Davis claims in “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction” that as science and technology develops, art feels the repercussions of these changes of well. During the age of mechanical reproduction, the copy could still be distinguished from the original, whose value does not diminish due to the existence of a copy. But in the age of digital reproduction, it’s a whole different story. Now, technology is able to so flawlessly reproduce a work of art that it is practically indistinguishable from the original.

The topics discussed in these two articles are very closely related to what we are currently studying in class. Our main focus is to address the coexistence of science and art, and how they affect each other. The discussions in these two articles provide an important insight into the nature of the relationship between science and art. They suggest that although artistic ideas originate through man, the actual creation of art is facilitated by science.

I agree with the articles and think that this is a reasonable conclusion to make about the relationship between science and art. There can be no doubt that the ideas and inspiration for art are found in the minds of men, but the physical appearance and quality of works of art are determined by the level of technology. A good way to put it is to say that science is the tool that makes into reality the artistic ideas that originate in our minds. For example, suppose an artistic or sculptor wants to create a painting or a sculpture. In order to do that, however, the artist needs to utilize pencils to put his picture down on paper. The same goes for the sculptor, who needs materials with which to sculpt his work. These tools are provided by science. And the more advanced that the technology is, the more sophisticated the work of art will turn out to be.

The two articles not only convey that science is the tool that creates art, but they also address specific effects that advances in science have on art. Going back to how easily art can be reproduced now, the point to be made here is that the level of science determines the quality of the artworks produced. Benjamin mentions that the Greeks only possessed two methods of reproducing art, both of which were not very satisfactory. Then, as science developed and we arrived in the age of mechanical reproduction, replication of artworks became much easier to do on a wide scale, although the authenticity still failed to match that of the originals. But in the age of digital reproduction, even that problem is gone. Now the originals and copies are so similar that it is difficult to distinguish between them. This progression of science demonstrates the point that as science develops, the quality behind the creation of art also increases.

Science will probably never be able to “think” up new ideas for artworks, but it does play an important role in the physical creation of art, and greatly affects its quality.


Wen Wu

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