art in the age of mechanical reproduction


I created these collages years ago, when I frightened by the rabid engine of modernity and longed for a return to sweet and soft nature and ruins. Studying archaeology killed that romanticism and dualism, perhaps for better, as I learnt how the ancients ate, shat, and were basically capitalist materialists. But after taking another look at these images, I realized they could signify more than the (fake) opposition between an illusory peaceful then and the crazed now… It is the mechanical reproduction of art, which has been sufficiently theorized for modern art, but in ancient art. The Ishtar Gate is a pop-culture icon just as much as Murakami; one can look at both and think ‘wouldn’t that be great wallpaper?’. The apotropaicism and mysticism of the gate were killed once it became a mechanically reproducible image, a postcard, a high-school art project.

1 Comment

  1. apotropaicism — I believe the proper word is just apotropaism. Thanks for teaching me a new word.

    I admit I can kind of get the feeling of nostalgia you’re conveying, but ultimately don’t grok the meaning of your essay if any. Or is the point precisely that meaning has been diluted by how easy expression is today? I would argue that this dilution is actually an optical illusion. There is actually more meaning all around, it only appears diluted in relative proportion.


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