In “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Walter Benjamin argued that creating, by mechanical means, multiple copies of something once prized for its singularity and its specific presence in time and space diminished the “authority” and the “authenticity” of the original, whether it was a painting, a sculpture, or the performance of a musical composition. The proliferation of anonymous replicas permitted by twentieth-century technology compromised what Benjamin called the “aura” of the work of art—which he described as “the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced.” Aura “withers” when the work of art is mechanically duplicated, Benjamin warned:

the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of...

 

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