Benjamin, Walter . Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Fine Arts Library Reserve Pamphlet - Kavky
This famous Benjamin essay gives a theoretical framework for which to view appropriation and reproduction. He comments on appropriation, ritual, theft, and the loss of aura. The author discusses how art became more accessible as the hand was freed by mechanical reproduction. Even though millennial reproduction technologies were not available when Benjamin wrote this essay, his arguments are still useful. He says, "Every day the urge grows stronger to get hold of an object at very close range by way of its likeness, its reproduction." He continues by discussing how the the spell of personality, but not aura, is present in films. The latter shows how the original and reproduction are two very different things. This essay gives one man's opinion about what art is in the 1930s, and further, makes us question what art is today. By showing that copyright questions of the past are still valid today, one is forced to confront issues of what it means to use other people's images in works of art. This essay is important for my paper because it postulates questions about ownership and reproduction that are driving factors behind my thesis.