Week 3\Modernization and Art\Jay Park

Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” says that the works of mass production lack an authenticity compared to the original. Though true in every sense, the belief is taken further in today’s society, where things that aren’t original or handmade are neglected and set aside as inferior. Replicas, perfect as they may be, are given a lower tier of appreciation too often, because of the overarching idea of authenticity that Benjamin refers to. There are flaws to this elitist approach to art. Consider the media of films or music. The actual, original, authentic product is only accessible and only experienced once for the people in its production. Every copy of a CD or DVD, is technically a copy of the gold original, and is must therefore lack a sense of appreciative value. This is hard to agree with, considering that the music from the CDs I buy or the DVDs I watch at home still sends the intended message. There is a lack of appreciation for replicas that is the direct result of an over-appreciation for the idea of authenticity.  Granted, there is a sense of awe and admiration when confronted with the original artwork. However, replicas allow appreciation for the art without undermining the value of the artist’s message to people who otherwise would never have the opportunity to experience. The cost of authenticity is priced too high in contemporary society, leaving replicas to hide in shame for no reason. If the artwork can be replicated while conveying the same, intended message, then authenticity is nothing more than certificate. There is nothing more to take from art besides the artist’s message, and the subject of authenticity often seems to be an elitist, anti-industrial movement belief that wants to stray from conformity. There are legitimate claims to the importance of authenticity; but there are also detrimental beliefs on replicas that derive from the authenticity claims, that need to be kept in check.   

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.