Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit), by Walter Benjamin, is an essay of cultural criticism which proposes that the aura of a work of art is devalued by mechanical reproduction. The subject and themes of the essay have much influenced the fields of art history and architectural theory, and of cultural studies and media theory.
During the Nazi régime (1933–1945) in Germany, Benjamin wrote the essay to produce a theory of art that is “useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art” in mass culture; that, in the age of mechanical reproduction, and the absence of traditional and ritualistic value, the production of art would be inherently based upon the praxis of politics.
This book contains the second, and most daring, of the four versions of the ‘Work of Art’ essay the one that addresses the utopian developments of the modern media. The collection tracks Benjamin’s observations on the media as they are revealed in essays on the production and reception of art; on film, radio, and photography; and on the modern transformations of literature and painting. The volume contains some of Benjamin’s best-known work alongside fascinating, little-known essays–some appearing for the first time in English. In the context of his passionate engagement with questions of aesthetics, the scope of Benjamin’s media theory can be fully appreciated.
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