"In principle a work of art has always been reproducible." (Benjamin, pg.1233) Benjamin does have a point when discussing mechanical reproduction. Art is always being reproduced. Take for example an artist and his painting. An artist may paint/draw/sculpt something, and may want to make another, it may be an original copy, but it is still a copy. A copy of a piece of art can be beneficial when it comes to observing the piece of art, but unfortunately, one cannot get the same feelings, meanings, etc out of the copy that they could get from the original. "Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is licking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be." (Benjamin, pg.1234) No reproduction will ever be able to emit the essence of the original piece of work.
Does this apply to movies and pictures? Movies and pictures capture a moment and have it on print/screen and that moment will never occur again. Are pictures reproductions of the moments we live? For me, this is just a little frightening. We as people will never attain the moments we live ever again, unless it’s caught on camera. I almost want to constantly have a camera at hand at all times now, capturing every single part of my life. Is this why people constantly take pictures today? Is it because we are unconsciously realize that this is the only time we live that experience and that it should be remembered in some way or another? What I would like to know is if an everyday picture has the same aura as the original Mona Lisa. Maybe yes maybe no. It could because it is authentic and genuine; but at the same time it could definitely be a no because it isn't as valuable as the Mona Lisa. Yet, does the value come from the critics, or from our own opinion?
I want to discuss sublimity in reproductions of art and pictures. I truly believe that Longinus would have a field day with reproductions and whether or not they can create sublimity. “Playing tricks by means of figures is a peculiarly suspect procedure. It raises the suspicion of a trap, a deep design, a fallacy. It is to be avoided in addressing a judge who has power to decide and especially in addressing tyrant…Such a person immediately becomes angry if he is led astray like a foolish child by some skillful orator’s figures.” (Longinus, pg.358) If an audience sees a reproduction of a piece of art, will they not be able to feel sublimity because they know it’s not original? Text/Art needs to be genuine; an original photograph can capture a genuine moment, but an audience might believe that the picture itself is copy of a moment so it could not be considered genuine. So it comes to this: what is real and what is a reproduction in today’s art and society?
Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” The Critical Tradition:
Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends, Third Edition. Ed. David H. Richter. Boston, MA: Bedford/St.
Martins, 2007. 1232-1237.
Longinus. “From On the Sublime.” The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present,
Second Edition. Ed. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 344-