week3_robotics,etc._ Originals vs. Reproduction by Devin Quinlan

In our modern age, technology has advanced to the point where art can be mass produced, not even by the original artist, but transcribed from the original medium to one (such as a scan or photograph) that can be printed out by a computer and viewed by anyone with internet access. As a result of these developments, people like Walter Benjamin have begun (or already had been) expressing what they believe to be lost in reproduction.

I had always been a bit biased on this subject. Ever since I was young, my mom, being an art teacher,  had been authority on art in my mind. She would always complain when her students would copy other works of art, telling me that there was no creative expression involved. She would always try to get me to draw things myself instead of copying or tracing things I had already seen. I came to believe that copying was bad, and that there was no merit to reproduction. I agreed with Benjamin that there were things about an original piece of artwork that can never be attained. With an original piece of art I would imagine the actual artist working over the canvas, painting and painting over the mistakes until the image was what he or she desired. It is sort of the same feeling that I get when I walk down bruin walk and think about Will Ferrell walking along the same path when he filmed Old School. It’s a way to feel that much closer to the artist.

After thinking of examples of things that exemplified this idea, however, I came upon a memory from a few years ago at an art museum that alters my view of this subject. It was after a long day at the museum and we were just about to leave, when we encountered a vending machine for original art. The machine works just like any other vending machine - you basically put in $3 and out pops a small piece of authentic artwork from some unknown artist. After thinking about the little artworks that we got that day, I realized that I would have honestly rather spent my three dollars on a small poster replication of a famous work of art. I feel that looking at something with a true message or meaning that was created with true inspiration is much better than original art, even if it’s a reproduction. While it’d be great to have an original Picasso masterpiece, I’d much rather have a copy than an original artwork that didn’t speak to me.

The truth is, there really isn’t anything wrong with reproduction. People like reproductions because they are of quality artwork, and there is really no way to make everything authentic without leaving people disappointed and unable to draw inspiration from great art. In fact, some art is meant to be reproduced, such as the logo. A logo for a large corporation is something that says a lot about a company. The artist actually puts a lot more thought into it’s creation that you would think, as everything needs to be just right, from the font and placement to the subliminal messages that come from the arrangement of lines and colors. The medium for the logo’s creation is almost always a computer, so there really is no “original” copy of the work, at least not one that I would get the feeling of being closer to the artist through. These artworks are created exclusively for being reproduced, and in fact the art’s success comes from being reproduced everywhere until anyone could reproduce it themselves.

In the end, there is no sure answer to the question of whether or not a reproduction is as good as an original. An original gives you extra aspects of the work and creates almost a bond that you can feel with the artist who created it, while the ability to reproduce works with accuracy in great numbers allows great art to get to the masses. Once again, it’d be great to have an original Picasso, but for now I’ll just have to settle for a reproduction.

-Devin Quinlan

http://www.logoworks.com/retail-logos2.html

Nike logo

Nike logo

McDonalds logo

McDonalds logo

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