Benjamin's essay discusses the effects of the technological reproduction of art, in a society where this is the norm. He believes part of the worth and relevance of art is its "here and now" value, its being entrenched in the historical moment from which it has its origins (253). This here and now value can never be recaptured in a reproduction. "Stated as a general formula, the technology of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the sphere of tradition. By replicating the work many times over, it substitutes a mass existence for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to reach the recipient in his or her own situation, it actualizes that which is reproduced" (254).
The advent of photography and film made the question of authenticity problematic, since there can be no original piece or art when the art is produced to be reproduced. "As soon as the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applied to artistic production, the whole social function of art is revolutionized. Instead of being founded on ritual, it is based on a different practice: politics".Exhibition value, rather than the cult function of art is set as the primary function of works at present. For, as the caveman drew on a wall as an exhibition for the spirits, that drawing is seen as art in the present. "The age of technological reproducibility separated art from its basis in cult" (258).
One of the conclusions at which Benjamin's essay is aiming is that this technological reproduction of art has served to alienate man from himself, so that war may be aestheticized, which simultaneously causes communism to politicize art, and fascism to aestheticize politics.
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