Reproducibility

28Nov11

Cadava, Eduardo. ‘Reproducibility’ Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History (Chichester: Princeton University Press, 1997) 42-44

p.42

[Benjamin] suggests that technical reproducibility can only be understood by considering the historical relations between science and art – especially in terms of their relation to the historical conditions of production and reproduction. 

[..] Technical reproduction is not an empirical feature of modernity; it is not an invention linked to the so-called modern era. Rather, it is a structural possibility within the work of art.

p.43

[citing Weber …] What interests Benjamin and what he considers historically ‘new’, is the process by which techniques of reproduction increasingly influence and indeed determine the structure of the artwork itself […] – or even, of our existence in general.

For as we know, every moment of our life, of our relation to the world, is touched directly or indirectly by this acceleration, an acceleration that had already prepared for the coming of the camera – where replication and production tend to merge. 

Indeed, the technology of the camera also resides in its speed, in the speed of the shutter, in the flash of the reproductive process.

An instrument of citation, the camera here cites the movement of lightning, a movement that never strikes the same place twice. In the same way reproducibility has always reproduced itself, but never in an identical manner.

There can be no understanding of photography without a thinking of the relation between photography and the history of technology. This is why technology can never simply clarify or explain the photographic event. This is also why the age of technological reproduction includes all history.

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