Self Portrait at 15, Head With Smaller Mound of Hair On An Absurd Plate

“…the impact of the photographic reproduction of artworks is of very much greater importance for the function of art than the greater or lesser artistry of a photography that regards all experience as fair game for the camera.  The amateur who returns home with great piles of artistic shots is in fact no more appealing a figure than the hunter who comes back with quantities of game that is useless to anyone but the merchant.  And the day does indeed seem to be at hand when there will be more illustrated magazines than game merchants.  So much for the snapshot.  But the emphasis changes completely if we turn from photography-as-art to art-as-photography.  Everyone will have noticed how much more readily apprehensible a picture, above all a sculpture, and indeed also architecture are in a photo than in reality.  It is all too tempting to blame this squarely on the decline of artistic appreciation, on a failure of contemporary sensibility.  But one is brought up short by the way the understanding of great works was transformed at about the same time the techniques of reproduction were being developed.  Such works can no longer be regarded as the product of individuals; they have become a collective creation, a corpus so vast it can be assimilitated only through miniaturization.  In the final analysis, methods of mechanical reproduction are a technique of dimunition that helps people to achieve a degree of mastery over works of art–mastery without which the works could no longer be put to use.”

So wrote Walter Benjamin in his essay “Little History of Photography.”  Is the case not the same for digital reproduction of art?   Indeed, the case is stronger yet and there is more to say.

~ by Faheem Haider on January 25, 2010.

One Response to “Self Portrait at 15, Head With Smaller Mound of Hair On An Absurd Plate”

  1. this is so affective. and it kills yes.

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