The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility

 

The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility

 

“The scope for exhibiting the work of art has increased so enormously with the various methods of technologically reproducing it that, as hap­pened in prehistoric times, a quantitative shift between the two poles of the artwork has led to a qualitative transformation in its nature. Just as the work of art in prehistoric times, through the exclusive emphasis placed on its cult value, became first and foremost an instrument of magic which only later came to be recognized as a work of art, so today, through the exclusive emphasis placed on its exhibition value, the work of art becomes a con­ struct [Gebilde] with quite new functions. Among these, the one we are conscious of — the artistic function — may subsequently be seen as inciden­tal. This much is certain: today, film is the most serviceable vehicle of this new understanding. Certain, as well, is the fact that the historical moment of this change in the function of art — a change which is most fully evident in the case of lm-allows a direct comparison with the primeval era of art not only from a methodological but also from a material point of view.”

 

From:

Walter Benjamin. “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility”, in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Vol. 3, 1935-1938. Boston: The Belknap Press of Harvard University; 2006, pp. 101-33.