Assignment 1

One of the most significant essays to address the repercussions of technological innovation in the arts is undoubtedly Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., published in 1936. Somehow he was able to predict the issues of authenticity that would arise when technology allowed for multiple ways of manipulating an image, from painting to photography, and onwards. This essay may seem difficult to get a handle on at first, but have some patience with it, and I think you will get the basis of it. There are many websites online that take apart this important piece of art criticism, so feel free to Google the essay if you don’t understand it in its first go-round.
After reading the essay, choose a specific subject – a celebrity, a video, a photograph, a television show, a film, etc. – that you think embodies Benjamin’s prediction, arguing how your chosen example reflects Benjamin’s early insights. Although I’ve suggested that you read other sites to get a handle on Benjamin’s text, you CANNOT use those texts to prove your point here. I want this assessment to come from you and you alone. You may use Benjamin’s text and you may use sources that speak of the innovation behind your example, but that is all. No sources (other than the Benjamin essay, if only for contextual sake) are required. Also, Benjamin covers a lot of historical material in his essay – do not feel that you need to tackle the entire text – only the elements that stand out to you as being important to how you conceive of your example’s relationship to what Benjamin’s larger argument is regarding the role technology has on the reproduction of art.
Minimum 5 pages.

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