Tuesday, 24 August 2010


'The photocopier is one of the most recent in a long line of instruments conceived for the mechanical reproduction of visual material. But unlike predecessors such as lithography and photography, which originated from an artistic as well as a mechanical urge for perfect representation, the photocopy was not conceived in any way as a tool for artists...

...The price paid for the factual reproduction of reality was termed 'the loss of the aura' by Walter Benjamin, who in the 1930s meticulously chronicled the extermination of the artistic aura (unique singularity) through mechanical reproduction. According to Benjamin, 'the dynamite of the tenth of a second' in photography and film blew away traditional notions of art appreciation as contemplative fetishism. If we extend Benjamin's chronology to the present day, then photocopying and video can be seen as successors in the 1980s to photography and film. Yet our present vantage point also permits us to advance beyond Benjamin's verdict on the aura and to see our destruction not only as inevitable due to technological progress, but also, in artistic terms, as necessary.'

From Christian Brensing, Refracted Origins, A Brief History of the Photocopy.