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The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

About the video

   In the first section (before Andy Warhol’s “Empire”), I used saturation change to show the loss of the aura, uniqueness and distance of the work. And the cult value which started to grow in ancient times and flourished with religion. Next to the religion based part, several portraits of woman indicated the secular cult of beauty. The part with artists’ signatures montage was explaining another kind of cult value, which I think had become popular when exhibition value started to appear, the cult value of artists. In addition, the signatures also showed that things in the painting were not equal but filtered by the artists.

     The second section (From “Empire” to the wall paper of windows XP) showed that in the age of mechanical reproduction, the exhibition value became important in artworks and artworks were made for the masses. It showed the equivalence of all things in mechanical reproduction works as well. From the Empire State Building, streets of Paris, raindrops, fire, flower to hills, they were all equal to the camera and were meant to be displayed to the audience.

     The third section (From dancing sands to blooming flowers) showed about our relation to reality were changed and boundaries between art and science might begin to disappear.

    The fourth section (From camera to “art for society” word card) talked about how technology and the masses adjust to each other. The evolution of camera showed the changes in every generation of camera, the shape of the handle and the position of the shutter button trying to make users comfortable using. On the other hand, the portable size which brought convenience and the mass produced cameras had made people producers. The masses were able to produce their own works in the age of mechanical reproduction. After that, the word card explained about the illusion of artistic autonomy. The illusion was cleared out, hence the realization of art being part of the society.

     In the fifth section (From Trump’s propaganda to Christopher Nolan’s interview), first, I wanted to talk about how mechanical reproduction was used in the means of political propaganda, the way they used to make people believe or brainwash; second, stars like actors and actresses were signifying that cult value still remained. Last but not least, the directors’ images were expressing the aforementioned idea of the cult value of artists, which in my opinion, was relevant to the equivalence of all things. The cult value of artists remained in artists like movie directors and photographers, indicating that their works (films or photographs) were filtered and were no longer equal to other “ordinary” films or photographs. Therefore, it denied the equivalence.

     The last part was trying to show about a new cult value, the cult value of commodity. The cult value of commodity created commodity fetishism and the proletarianization of the consumer. The masses were taught what to desire and how to live, pursuing the same product and making the center of society. In the advertisement of H&M directed by Wes Anderson, I tried to show how artist’s autonomy were lost in culture industry. Directors were restricted inside commercial oriented pieces and unable to explore the full potential of cinema and media.

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