Strategies of irreproducibility

Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics 11:60-76 (2019)
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In this paper I focus on the topic of reproducibility (and irreproducibility) of aesthetic experience and effects, distinguishing it from the traditional subject of artifact reproducibility. The main aim is to outline a typology of the various kind of irreproducibility of aesthetic experience and to draw some implications for the aesthetic discussion concerning contemporary art. Depending on the type of artwork, we can define the difference (or the “ratio”) between aesthetic experience in the presence of the artwork and aesthetic experience in its absence, that is, in the presence of its reproductions or documentations. For instance, in an easily reproducible painting the difference between experiencing the real artwork or its reproduction could be considered relatively small, while the difference between real experience and reproduction would be high in a complex roomfilling installation. This ratio could depend on ontological, material, or practical reasons and could also depend on the technological means of reproduction and documentation. In conclusion, following Groys (2017), I will suggest that the application of different "strategies of irreproducibility” testifies the urge to escape the replicability of aesthetic experience and the desire to generate forms of uniqueness and exclusivity in the fruition of art, and could therefore be seen as one of the reasons why art today is strongly based on documentations, installations or performative events. You really need to make the real effort to queue up and attend them, no substitute would be otherwise possible.

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Emanuele Arielli
Istituto Universitario di Architettura (Venezia)


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