One of the main criteria for perceiving something as a work of art is its uniqueness.
It’s one of the kind and no one can reproduce it, not even the author.
There’s only one Mona Lisa, only one Guernica.
It’s almost a requirement, to be unique, to be a single item.
The “non reproduction” characteristic is a cultural and aesthetic value.
Unique is a major concept in art theory.
Things changed and all the sudden we entered a digital age taking printing to a whole new level. Books, posters, album covers, flyers… you name it. All the sudden the world became filled with communication objects but… a very special kind of communication objects. They are designed, from the beginning, to be reproduced. We don’t call it art, we call it design.
Take the Gutenberg Bible as an example. We see it as one of the most important objects in the history of mankind, we acknowledge its cultural value, historic value but not much the artistic value. We talk about how rare and important it is but not about how the pages are designed, the fonts, the margins, the kind of paper, the finishing, etc…
Reproducibility is the characteristic of these objects.
Communication, graphic or industrial creations, more or less creative but not art. When Marcel Duchamp picked up a public urinal and exhibited it in an art gallery, something changed forever.
There it was, an object not conceived as a work of art, mass produced and reproduced, with no aesthetic value, being seen as art.
The bottom line is: Uniqueness or Reproducibility should not be a criteria for the aesthetic evaluation of something. Uniqueness or Reproducibility are just a characteristic of something.
That brings me to film.
I have a pathological… thing concerning dust and hairs on my negatives.
Well, dust, hairs and scratches are a characteristic of film photography. I know that film is not supposed to get dirty or scratched but it comes with the territory.
No matter how well taken care of our negatives are, there’s always that tiny spec we just can’t get rid of. It’s part of the process and we all accept it. However… is that characteristic a criteria for the aesthetic evaluation when look at a photograph?
I truly believe that the Sex Pistols cover is as beautiful as the urinal and as beautiful as the Mona Lisa.
And I’ve also said that the intrinsic characteristics of something should not interfere with our aesthetic evaluation and enjoyment.
When it comes to dust and hairs does it interfere?
Please click on the images to see them larger.
PS: I hope that some of my writing is understandable. I try not to misspell a lot and I try to improve on every post. That being said I would appreciate any advice or correction from my English speaking friends. Thank you.