Benjamin (2010), thinks about the modern day development and reproducibility of photography and its impacts of photography on arts. According to Benjamin (2010), the reproduction of a work of art lacks the presence of the work in time and space and lacks unique existence of the work of art at its original place. The unique existence of an artistic work determines the history of which the work went through throughout its existence as well as the changes the work went through due to natural causes or exchange of ownership. When such work is captured through photography and consequently manipulated, it loses its originality such that not possible to perform physical and chemical analyses that explain the originality of the object. For instance, suppose an authentication test is required on an ancient piece of bronze art. Chemical analysis can be used for the authenticity of the bronze piece, a fete which is not possible in the photograph. In this case, Benjamin states that the original art is lost due to reproducibility.

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Kelsey (2015) believes that photographs may be arts. Kesley argues that photographs can be made to be the work of art through chance. For instance, an amateur photographer can take very many shots before getting the perfect shot. The perfect shot is the considered the work of art and may be displayed in the museum and considered as a commodity. In defending the many shots that must be taken by chance, Kelsey quotes Garry Winogrand’s statement that: “Art is not judged in terms of industrial efficiency” pp. 3. However, photography as an art through chance is not definite, and the expected ‘perfect shot’ may never happen.

Perhaps the clearest instance that showcases the distinction between art and photography is in films. Films are a set of constantly moving photographs. In the days of Shakespeare, long before the invention of photography, plays, and performances were conducted in theaters where the artistic performance was showcased by the actors adjusting the audience and responding to the audience to improve the quality of the art. However, in films, actors act in the staged film without live audiences and following instructions from a director. The film, therefore, loses its artistic quality, a basic requirement for an artwork according to Koch, Gerken and Codex Foundation.

  • Arnheim, R. (1954). Art and visual perception (1st ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Benjamin, W. (2010). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction (1st ed.). Lexington, KY: Prism Key Press.
  • Jacobi, C. and Kingsley H. (2016). Photography into Art. Pre-Raphaelites to the modern age. London: Tate Gallery Publishing Ltd.
  • Kelsey, R. (2015). Photography and the Art of chance (1st ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Koch, P. R., Gerken, J., & Codex Foundation. (2008). Art: Definition five (and other writings). Berkeley, Calif: Codex Foundation.
  • Tolstoy, L. (2016). What is art? (1st ed.). London: Bloomsbury Academic.