Essay on the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


Added on  2020-04-01

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Visual Arts
Photography: Discussion/Presentation:1 | Page
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Can art be mechanically reproduced?In the respective essay “The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, WalterBenjamin shed a light on ways in which human perception was influenced by the development oftechnologies and introduction of the new medium of expressions like films and photography.Today the visual works of art underwent a sea change with the advent of phenomenaldevelopment in technologies and digital medium of expression. Perception is now presented in aunique way to achieve universal appeal. It has been further studied from the research article onthe pioneer pictorial photographer Henry Peach Robinson, that presenting imagination inphotography with aesthetic appeal to achieve timelessness like the popular painting was a uniqueapproach and became popular in his time ("Masters of Photography - Henry Peach Robinson",2017). He was the first artist to blend artistic appeal into photography with the help of uniquetechnology. He made use of multiple negatives to create a unique single image which is oftenidentified as the predecessor of the photomontage technique. Thus, at a very early age ofphotography, he made use of available technology to represent his imagination. In the later agethough Benjamin criticised stating that with advancement towards film and photography themechanical reproduction of art lost its original aura of imagination represented through thecamera. Thus, while few supported that mechanical support was needed to present art andphotography in a much better way and the works of Robinson sings the tale of this pioneeringattempt. Several argued against it ("Henry Peach Robinson | British photographer", 2017). When something is reproduced for so many times is that art? What's theimportance of the mechanical reproducibility of the art? What was the impacton mechanical reproducibility on the society? In relation to this point, thinker Benjamin pointed out that multiple representations of the artwork reduces the original appeal of the creation and transforms it into a mass product for massconsumption. Mechanical support has helped to transform art into a product and sells to earnrevenue. For example, the work of art of Raja Ravi Verma in the late nineteenth century became2 | Page
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popular in the consumer market and his creation of images of deities was hung on the walls ofthe Indian homes and worshipped on daily basis. The aesthetic art journey he considered torepresent Gods through paintings soon got lost under the techniques of mass production throughmechanical advancement (PEIM, 2010). The richness of art and the originality of his creationwere lost with the removal of authority and thus support Benjamin’s argument here on liberationas a moss of authority in regards to mass consumption and transforming great works of art intopopular images.Society today successfully made use of mechanical reproducibility and multiplied production ofphotographs or artworks in copied form. This has in a way led to the loss of the charm of theoriginal work and also affected the aesthetic intensity of the creative pursuit. Is photography art, or contribution to the art? Is it just a tool used by artists? “Is photography art, or contribution to the art” is a debatable question that has triggeredargument since the inception of photography. Iconic photographers like Henry Peach Robinsonwas identified as the pictorial photographer and a founder of pictorial photography, while othersargued that photographs should be developed from photography techniques (Krages, 2012).Photographic creations from Henry Cartier-Bresson, Enrich Salomon took photography to thenext level. While initial photography and pictorial photographs were mostly inspired bypaintings of the previous times, and in the case of Robinson was influenced by Pre-Raphaelitespainting. Thus various forms and techniques were involved to delineate the imagination of thephotographer through lenses and technology and hence enriched the art world. Artists make useof various tools and techniques in the present world and represent their creative pursuit on paperor digital medium.How and why Henry Pitch Robinson created Fading Away? What was thereason? The epoch-making pictorial delight by Henry Peach Robinson Fade Away, was a unique pictureskilfully printed from five different negatives to depict the pain of the family as they silently3 | Page
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