Mechanical Reproduction of Art in the Internet Age

Firstly, I want to apologize for how late this blog post is–earlier this week, I was very sick then went out of town for a comedy festival. Hopefully, people still have time to comment engage with this post before class tomorrow night! 

 

In XII, Benjamin asserts, “Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art.” If it is true that artworks have gone from being cult experiences, where few people had access to things like cave paintings or holy statues, to being interpreted based on their ease of exhibition and of reproduction, then it’s pretty easy to see that the very idea of what constitutes as “art” has shifted tremendously since the invention of the photograph. Benjamin points out that even after photography was invented, film was introduced another reproduction that, though it’s arguably less “real” than stage performances, reaches a huge audience.

 

Around Part X, Benjamin points out that with the rise of film and with the ease of publishing in the last century, the distinction between “author” and “public” became blurry. This made me think about the Internet. Not only is there ease of exhibition unlike anything the world has ever seen, but there are also millions of channels through which people can express their ideas and create art.

 

What do you think Benjamin would have to say about Internet things like memes (easily reproducible, and difficult to trace back to a singular author) and Facebook Live videos? Are they art just because of the large audience? How has the Internet changed contemporary perceptions of art and in what ways is this change similar to/different from the changes that Benjamin points out stemming from the introduction of photography and film?

One thought on “Mechanical Reproduction of Art in the Internet Age

  1. I don’t think Benjamin would consider memes as art. However, I think that memes can be considered art from our point of view as millennials. Benjamin said that “the unique value of ‘authentic’ works of art has its basis in ritual”. By ritual, I believe Benjamin is focusing the location, or in some ways, the culture in which the art exists. With our access to internet, memes have become a part of our culture. We as millennials find substance and find meaning within memes because it takes some sort of creative ability to come up with a meme that is widely accepted amongst the virtual community. Therefore, we can perceive memes as art.

    I struggle a little more with classifying Facebook Live videos as art. There doesn’t seem to be much creative intent even though there is ease of access. Since it is capturing a live moment, I’m not positive if this medium can be reproduced. There isn’t an accepted meaning or association with Facebook Live videos like there is with memes.

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