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February 1998, Week 2


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Thu, 12 Feb 1998 13:14:07 -0600
TEXT/PLAIN (48 lines)
Richard Leskosky observes:
> The proliferation of reproductions of artworks may also have something to
> do with it.  Whether that reproduction is a photo-reproduction of a
> painting or a videocassette of a film classic, it's something you can look
> at any time, something you can "always"  replace.  So the original  can
> come to count for less--in a sense, become only one of many instances of
> the artwork.  The content also becomes the paramount consideration for the
> mass audience; and the medium, its specific materials and potentials, and
> the stylistic considerations of the production of the original become
> secondary concerns (if they remain concerns at all).  For instance, my
> guess is that most people who  own a photo-reproduction of Georges Seurat's
> "Un dimanche après-midi  à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte"  don't use it to
> study/appreciate his pointilist technique.
Quite true.  I think Walter Benjamin had something to say about this.
Seriously, though, it can be hard to appreciate what is lost in even 
the best reproduction of a painting.  To cite another Seurat--the one 
of young men bathing in the Seine--I've seen many reproductions of this 
painting.  It wasn't until I went to the National Gallery in London 
that I finally clearly saw a plume of smoke rising from a factory in 
the background--a detail that has forever altered how I think of that 
No digital reproduction can capture the effect of seeing a film as it 
was meant to be seen--projected in a theater with the proper equipment. 
This is not just a matter of taste or even of aesthetics but of the 
actual perception of the actual object.  Digital reproduction might 
preserve much of the film, but something will always be lost!
Of course, in recent years, when (American, at least) films are made 
with an eye to more than one format and more than one market, the idea 
of how it was "meant" to be seen becomes more problematic.  But right 
now, those aren't the movies we are rushing to save!
Don Larsson
Donald Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite