The Time and Space of the Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction
Since Benjamin’s essay on the “Age of Mechanical Reproduction” technical innovations have continued to transform not just the very notion of art, but the very notion of “reality”. The imagined boundary between the time and space of art and the time and space of “reality”—whether the “time and space of the work of art” could still be conceived as “autonomous”—was at issue for Benjamin as well as for Adorno and Horkheimer and Marcuse. Other theorists drawn on in the chapter include McLuhan, Virilio, Bauman and Rancière. The principal literary “works of art” referred to here are Beckett’s “Ping”, Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and DeLillo’s White Noise. The final part examines the ongoing question of the place of art in a world where any “autonomous” space seems inconceivable. Rancière’s concept of “shared surfaces” perhaps provides a resolution of the debate on the “time and space” of the work of art.