In the past few decades, the ways of doing and thinking about art have radically changed due to the use of specialised technology to assist artistic practices and to enhance the experience of art. Especially after the turn of the millennium and the relief that nothing “terrible” was going to happen to our beloved digital appliances, any clouds of disbelief towards software technology gave way to a clear horizon. The art-making and art-dealing circles began to accommodate an increasing variety of digital equipment that was soon attended by an equally familiarised public.
One type of technology-supported art practice is screen based software art. The term refers to practices that are assisted by computer software programmes to process human and electronic stimuli and that have a screen output. Even though screen based software art is a relatively new phenomenon, the debates associated with it, i.e. about the nature, the value, and the use of such art practices, can be traced as back as the early twentieth century. In 1936, Walter Benjamin wrote the essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, where he considered the fate of art in a rapidly industrialised world. This dissertation will offer a critical presentation of screen based software art through the exploration of Benjamin’s notion of the “aura”. Notwithstanding the new types of experience that screen based software art offers by challenging the boundaries between the artist and the viewer and between art institutions and private collectors, it is, perhaps more than any other art form, prone to debates about value, reproducibility, and aesthetics. Have screen based software artworks really lost their aura of originality and if so, what kind of aesthetic experience do they offer?
In chapter One, I will define my object of study by presenting the multiple forms and technologies of digital art. In addition, I will review the history of digital and software art and the gradual rise of its significance. Early exhibitions date as back as 1968 and include’Cybernetic Serendipity’ at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London and ‘The Machine, as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age’at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Undeniably however, the reign of software art is the internet; a prominent example is Processing.org, an online programming language supported by a web environment, appealing to a wide audience from students to researches and from artists to architects.
In chapter Two, I will present the debates about the value, legitimation, and reproduction of software art. The development of a clear theoretical approach to software art is important not only because it will clarify notions such as “art” and “value”, but also because it will allow us to identify a framework for defying and judging screen based software art. Because screen based software art counterpoises the element of the new in relation to the old, Benjamin’s reflections on the artwork’s “aura” are indispensable to any discussion on software’s nature as art in a technologically advanced society. In 1936, Benjamin explained how art loses direct relation and reference to human experience through endless reproduction and consumption.
Thus in chapter Three, I will test Benjamin’s argument on the depletion of an artwork’s “aura” through endless reproduction by discussing the contemporary work of Camille Utterback and the curatorial practices of Steven Sacks. Utterabck uses custom-made software programmes to seek ways of offering an aesthetic experience that remains, at the same time, critically engaged with reality. In installations such as Text Rain (1999) and Drawing from Life (2001), Utterback explores the space between reality and its representations and wishes to challenge habitual notions of the body and its virtual image. Sack is the founder of bitforms galleries (New York and Seoul) that are devoted to digital and software art, as well as the owner of the e-shop software art space where one can buy an unlimited edition of software artworks. Through these examples, I will show how while some screen based software art practices strive to transgress the traditional boundaries of artistic expression, screen based software artworks can be compromised by processes of selection and promotion.
In conclusion, it may be that software art is less tangible than traditional art forms and subject to legal restrictions of access and censorship of content. As a result, information is not freely circulated, but regulated by capital-generating activities. Nevertheless, screen based software art offers a unique, interactive experience that can be both private and public and that can address both aesthetic and social issues. Thus, screen based software art provides new means to test and to exceed the limits of human perception and imagination.
Defining Software Art
It has been a long way since John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert completed the first general-purpose computer called Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) in 1946, and D. T. Ross created the first example of free-hand drawing with a computer called ‘Scope Input Program’ in 1954. Plotters had to be designed, interactive computer graphics systems to be created, and software programmes to be written before artists could take their experimentations with the electronic medium into the gallery halls. Giloth and Pocock-Williams (1990) explain how there is an interrelate cycle of technological innovation, followed by application and consequently having an effect on culture and opening up new opportunities for the artists; in turn, this leads to experimentation and theorisation, slips into education, and assists the intellectual evolution of culture resulting in new technological innovations.
Artists were soon attracted to the digital medium and its metaphoric quality to transgress the limitations of traditional art-making means and human capacity. The three exhibitions that consecrated computer art as a recognised force in contemporary art in 1968 (Stallabrass, 1996) were: a) the ‘Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts’, Institute of Contemporary Art, London; b) the ‘On the Path to Computer Art’, Technical University, Berlin; and c) ‘The Machine, as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age’, Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1972, the first International Festival of Computer Art was held in New York, and soon digital art moved to open grounds, outside and beyond the gallery walls. In 1979, the Ars Electronica was founded in Austria and still remains the major European festival for digital art, and in 1988 the Transmediale International Media Art Festival was initiated in Berlin. These being but the most striking examples, digital festivals all over the world are responsible for bringing together a vast array of different works and artists, as well as supporting workshops and providing specialised training.
The term digital art acts as an umbrella to different art practices that produce works by using software such as computer drawing programmes, or by using external outputs such as digitally scanned photographs and drawings on graphic tablets. Multimedia and interactive art combine different forms of inputs and outputs, while net art is orientated towards wider accessibility and simultaneous participation. In its own right, screen based software art is based on custom-made software programmes that are designed and often developed by the artist. Yet, what describes all digital objects is algorithmic manipulation, which means that background noise can be removed from sounds, contrast can be increased in pictures, and setting can be adjusted in animation. In short, the medium itself becomes programmable (Manovich, 2001, p.27). Thus, digital art offers practically unlimited manipulation of image, text, and sound, and application possibilities of animation and interaction.
Interaction, the key characteristic of software art, can be classified in three modes (Hammel, 2005). These are: a) reaction, where one’s action is minimal as in the case of browsing the internet; b) interaction, where one is actively involved in the development of the project as in the case of computer games; and c) symbioaction, where a virtual reality is offered and, once inside that environment, one cannot differentiate between one’s own work and that of the machine’s, the latter being often the case in software gallery installations. An example of interactive software artwork is Sasha Pohflepp’s Between Blinks& Buttons (2006), a work that explores the camera as a networked object. By entering the two-dimensional icon of a picture on screen, the viewer is relocated to the time and place when that specific photograph was shot. This makes it possible to see what happens in the world simultaneously at the moment of viewing, creating narratives that run between one’s own memory and a stranger’s moment that happened to coincide in time (Pohflepp, 2007).
Early criticism condemned digital art on the grounds that computer art systems are inflexible and thus unsuitable tools for artistic expression. Yet, this is no longer valid since software systems became increasingly flexible and sensitive to external output. Digital automacitity, in its various toolboxes and computer operating systems, offers the artist more opportunity and more time to intervene as the image is being created (Boulter and Grusin, 2000). Moreover, being much more sensitive than the human eye or ear, computer-assisted art can stimulate the senses in unique and extraordinary ways. Still, the ability of technology to stimulate the senses and to simulate reality is not something that should be taken lightly. McLuhan (1964) draws attention to the power of the media to convey, quite convincingly when supported by images and sounds and reaching households where -at that time- electricity was a novelty, whatever aspect of reality seems more convenient for their purposes. By trapping the viewer into a prison without walls, media are becoming an excellent means of propaganda. Popular for the assertion that ‘the medium is the message’, McLuhan also argues that different media have different social, cultural, and political functions since each medium offers different ways of experiencing.
Today, digital equipment is widely available, even though quite expensive when specialised, and software art is ever popular, the latter incorporated in UK secondary education in 1992 (Worrall, 2000, p.6). Undeniably however, the reign of software art is the internet where there are modes and types of software art-making participation and sharing to suit every need. A prominent example of such a specifically designed site is Processing.org that was created by Ben Fry and Casey Reas in 2004, the former a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Laboratory and the latter an Associate Professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. Prosessing.org is an open source programming language supported by a wed site environment. A programme is available to download for free and used to produce images, animation, and sound. Processing.org offers a software programming sketchbook, that is, an online platform that can be joined by anyone from students to researches and from artists to architects who wish to learn how to produce software art, to view artworks, and to discuss software art related issues. Apart from an online gallery and tutorials, the site also offers latest information on exhibitions and courses, as well as opportunities for new designers to contribute by sharing projects, writing codes, and answering questions.
Yet, the most celebrated attribute of software art, namely its reproducibility, is also the cause of all major debates about it. The endless potential of reproduction, use, re-use, and modification of any given information harbours substantial doubts towards software art’s originality, even legality. At a practical level, because digital art is deeply imbedded in entertainment and advertisement business, it is entangled in legal ramifications of copyright laws which ensure that royalties are paid to the rightful owner upon any reproduction and distribution of the product, who may not necessarily be the artist who designed it but rather the company for which the artist designed the product for. Moreover, software art is also subject to the Digital Right Management, a term referring to technologies that are responsible for applying corporative control protocols on the availability and use of information, as well as restricting access and censoring content. This means that despite the phenomenological plurality of software art products, the industry to which these are related makes huge efforts and spends millions of pounds each year to ensure that the circulation of information remains still a profitable business and thus designed to be manipulated and regulated by capital-generating activities. In addition, private organisations such as the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) founded in the UK in 1984 provide copyright registration and protection services to artists, with a considerable fee estimated on a percentage basis.
At a theoretical level, the problem of originality in software art can be examined in relation to Benjamin’s notion of the “aura” and his insights to the nature of art in the age of mechanical (now digital) reproduction.
Benjamin and Art in Reproduction
For Benjamin writing in 1936*, the problem is not reproduction (since man-made artefacts could always be imitated by men), but rather mechanical reproduction, that is to say, the reproduction done by machines of a man-made prototype. The example that Benjamin (1968), uses is the woodcut that enabled the reproduction of graphic art rather than having the replica made by the master’s apprentices in practice of their crafts. True, the copy can be put in situations that would be out of reach for the original itself; yet, the copy lacks the original’s presence in time and space (Benjamin, 1968, p.220). This means that not only the object’s physical and ownership conditions change, but also the place of the artwork in history. As Douglas Crimp (1980) explains, the “aura” of the work of art is a historical concept linking art to tradition, to the time and place of its production and experience.
The all-famous Mona Lisa example is to the point, but not so by fear that the popular postcards would prevent someone from actually going and seeing the “real thing”- perhaps quite the opposite. Instead, the problem with the cheap reproduction of a masterpiece is that the quality of the original is always depreciated because of its accustomed, and often unconscious, viewing. However, the presence Benjamin here refers to is not confined to the physicality of the object. Rather, presence is so important because historical testimony is related to authenticity and to the authority of the object (Benjamin, 1968, p.221). In other words, having been displaced in time and space, the artwork loses its authority. But what authority is that? A work of art is conditioned by the historical circumstances of its production, i.e. the technical as well as the social and political circumstances, and equally a work of art can be read against those historical transformations, in the line of Vienna School scholars such as Riegl and Wickhoff. What the mechanical reproduction of an artwork really does is to replace the original’s conditions of existence and consequently its critical links to reality with alien reconfigurations that are mainly market-orientated. Benjamin (1968) allows for this eliminated element of art to be called “aura”, yet its significance points beyond the realm of art.
In fact, the social bases of the contemporary decay of “aura” are related to the increasing significance of the masses in contemporary life and their need to bring everything closer spatially and humanly’ (Benjamin, 1968, p.223). Reproduction destroys two types of value in art; namely cult value, lost when the object from being hidden and often accessible only to the initiated is being exposed and reproduced; and exhibition value, since the copy is more accessible and closer to the beholder whom it meets ‘halfway’ (Benjamin, 1968, p.220). Reproduction obviously relieves, as well as feeds, the contemporary need of uniqueness and permanence and admits to social alienation, especially if we follow Benjamin’s example of photography.
In terms of quality of art, the act of bringing together is almost destructive to a work’s “aura”, because the copy is displaced in time and space and, along with this spatio-temporal estrangement, so does the aesthetic experience the work offers. It seems that art should never be too familiar or too cosy; on the contrary for Benjamin, art is inherently revolutionary and should retain a critical view on reality. Apparently, commoditised art objects that are market-orientated lose their status as art, since they assist to cast a homogenous veil over the contradictory capitalist society rather than inspiring to any critical understanding of reality. Further, unlike commodities that offer instant gratification of desire coupled with pleasure, art should be challenging, even terrifying- hence Benjamin’s reference to tradition and the ritualistic character of the artwork. Tradition is, of course, a historical term and Benjamin is quick to dismiss any theological investment in the word “art” by adding that in fact, ‘mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual’ (Benjamin, 1968, p.224). However, designing art for reproduction instead for rituals is not the way forward either.
Indeed, the problem identified by Benjamin as the consequence of the commoditisation of art is the decline in the human capacity to experience (Benjamin, A., 1986, p.32). In capitalism, people lose the actual experience of living and producing that is found in traditional social structures and, as a result, they become increasingly alienated from their lives and their existence, while art has been reduced to yet another widely available commodity as alien and as alienating as the lives it illustrates. In the example of film that Benjamin uses, what is lost by the cinematic experience is the actual experience of life itself. This is so because the film is a pre-arranged sequence of pre-selected frames cut off from real life, depicting lives of actors that are not their own and allowing the voyeuristic camera to expose a fictive intimacy. Benjamin observes a similar discontinuity between life as lived and life as advertised in the rapidly expanding industrial capitalism, which is what destroys the artwork’s “aura”, its authenticity and authority over experience. As Wolin (1982, p.30) explains, ‘Benjamin’s argument proceeds from the fact that the continuity of experience, so essential for handing down experiences in traditional societies, has been replaced in contemporary life by the wholesale fragmentation of experience’ [italics in the original].
However, what about a work of art that establishes its own spatio-temporal parameters? Then, the copy would become an original that does not leave the beholder halfway between the original satisfaction and a moderate copy out of place and time. Rather, the work would invite the viewer into a space and time made anew; a total space and time which the beholder will be visiting for the first time. In relation to screen based software art, it may be true that the initial idea is twice translated, once via the artist and one via the machine. Yet, the result is the same: in terms of actual experience, the screen of a computer can be equally authoritative as a painting. Moreover, unlike traditional means of expression and their accustomed interface surface, software art can bet on the element of surprise in order to convey if not new, certainly anew, a truly diverse array of experience.
At the end, the fundamental question is the quality of experience that art offers. In order to be able to make this value judgement, one has to choose what one considers art should be doing. Even though the quality of an artwork can undeniably be diminished in reproduction, this does not mean that all originals attain high quality by virtue of their originality alone. Using Benjamin’s criteria, there are certainly works of traditionally understood art that are incorporated in consumerist bliss and that in fact embalm social passivity, as the l’art pour l’art movement. Therefore, if we judge quality by the initial experience of an artwork and its critical stance towards reality then each and every experience of it should retain that quality, less the artwork wishes to fall into decadence. Screen based software art has the means to offer new experience that can be endlessly reproduced to be subjective enough for every viewer, and that can be also objective and addressing real social problems beyond what a mass-reproduced commodity has to offer. Of course, as with all media, screen based software art can be used for the opposite purpose. Software can attain a status of high art or of low art, but this judgement cannot be made solely on the grounds of the use of digital equipment nor by the use of pre-designed systems of codification. Otherwise, if one remains concentrated on the technicalities of screen based software art, one will not be judging art but rather the technical skills of software and hardware companies. In short, the problem is not the use of technology, but how technology is being used. Again, this is not a contemporary concern; Martin Heidegger (1977) examines the relation of existence to technology arguing for a free relation between the human being and the essence of technology, which opens the way to a more secular understanding of existence. Besides, etymologically the word “technology” derives from the Greek word technē, meaning crafts as well as art; thus there is, essentially, a connection between technology and artistic creativity.
Creating and Curating Screen Based Software Art
According to Marelen Corcoran (1996), the new technology that concentrates on the particular, individual work of art is also responsible for changing our sense of aesthetics as such, now shifted from the museum to the visit and from objects in space to an activity in time. Corcoran makes a valid point; traditional notions of aesthetics and art evolve close to traditional art media, and new media compel the re-configuration of old values, not necessarily old-fashioned but certainly displaced. The artwork, located in space, engages the visitor in time; and when it comes to software art, the artwork controls both space and time since the visitor, often seduced in a black cube or inside a sea of cables, is cut off from the real world only to re-enter it via new channels. The danger in this is that one can use software to modify space and time and to indulge in a virtual reality, becoming, by this, even more alienated from society. Benjamin (1968) argues that the difference between a theatre performance and viewing a film is that in the former case the actor can adjust to the audience during the performance, whereas in the latter the audience actually follows the positional views of the camera which are pre-selected by the editor, and by this it becomes identified with the camera. As a result, the actor looses his “aura” and with that ‘the aura of the figure he portrays’ (Benjamin, 1968, p.229). That is to say, the audience identifies itself, and is preconceived with, the medium, i.e. the voyeuristic camera, and misses any didactic purposes the film might have. More important still, the audience is allowed the position of the critic, yet this position at the movies requires no attention. For Benjamin, ‘the public is an examiner, but an absent-minded one’ (1968, p.241).
But what about a kind of art that would prompt the viewer to action and would challenge passive consumption, a kind of art that would be created by the viewer and not for him or her? Cammille Utterback is a software artist, whose work is characterised by the dynamics of motion and presence. Utterback, who has won the Transmediale International Media Art Festival Award in 2005, wishes to explore issues of subjectivity and individuality by manipulating spatio-temporal perception and intra-personal communication. An early example of Utterback’s work is the installation Text Rain (1999), where the viewer moves interactively to the projected image of falling letters against a plain background. Letters as such can be accumulated on the projected shadows of the bodily parts that the participant uses and developed into sentences. Moreover, these letters are not random and indeed line-up to read poetry verses on body and language. With this work, the artist touches upon the mental and physical endeavour of articulating communication, as well as art. By exploring social relations, technological affiliations, and gestures of communication, Utterback (2007) aims at achieving a ‘visceral connection between the real and the virtual’. The fact that the theme of the text-in-progress is the body (which is what the participant uses to create these lines) and language (which is also what the participant uses to create these lines) is a very challenging way to transgress the limits between the artist and the viewer. Further, neither “real” body nor “real” language is present; and yet they are, through their projections and the accumulation of their constituent parts. In this way, Utterback achieves a dialog between physical bodies and possible representational systems, inviting custom-made connections and subjective interpretations.
Despite using technology to enhance the experience of reality, Utterback still needs to face the challenge, as an artist, to create the tools that will enable her to explore those concepts she wises to address. With a creative manipulation of technology, Utterback produces artworks that blur the commonsensical boundaries between the real and the virtual, and that draw attention to the corporeal, its representation, and their mutual manipulations. Utterback’s projects include interactive installations (External Measures, 2003), the use of inanimate technologies to explore our emotional investment (Potent Objects, 2003), and testing the conception and perception of different points of view (Liquid Time Series, 2001-2002). The use of software art and interactive screens opens new ways to experience what otherwise would remain in the realm of ideas, as well as new educational routes. In 2001, the American Museum of Natural History, New York commissioned Utterback for an exhibit on the Human Genome, to which Utterback responded with Drawing from Life, an on-screen transformation of the viewer’s body into the symbolic letters of DNA. Utterback’s new exhibition Animated Gestures is coming up in March, 2007 in Art Interactive, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The other side of software art, as with every art, is its promotion, circulation, and sales. However, unlike other art forms, software art can be instantly transported worldwide. The move out of the gallery and into the World Wide Web can also affect quality, apart from saleability. Steven Sacks is the founder of bitforms (2001), a New York-based gallery that is exclusively devoted to new media art such as digital, interactive, and software art. Realising his ambition to expand and to promote new media art to a wider audience, Sacks has expanded bitforms by opening a new branch in Seoul in 2005. The Seoul gallery is located inside Mue, the upscale clothing boutique owned by Sacks’s new partner-in-business, Mr. Chung. As Sacks explains, ‘I’ve built a brand, and I want to make sure it stays at a high level’ (quoted in Vanderbilt, 2005). With an increasing demand for software art and not many galleries to promote it, Sacks saw a market opportunity and moved fast to open a gallery that fitted the bill. According to their website, bitforms galleries advertise themselves as devoted to emerging and established artists who embrace new media in new languages and artistic experiences. Last year alone, bitforms topped $1 million in revenue from reselling and consignment (Vanderbilt, 2005). Sacks also provides software art systems for home use, the prices for which start from under $1.000 and where one can experiment with touch-screens and other audio-visual programming equipment. Finally, no software art-dealing business could be lacking its own virtual space. In August 2005, Sacks launched software art space, a website where one can shop online an unlimited edition of software works by artists whom Sacks represents. Prices start from $100 and the merchandise arrives at the customer’s door in a designer’s CD-ROM version.
By these two examples I wish to show how screen based software art can be used for either private or public enjoyment, and can be critically engaged with social problems or can have a straightforward aesthetic function. Thus, a screen based software artwork can motivate someone to act in-between the real and the virtual and to reflect, through physical as well as conceptual engagement, on human presence and social relations. At the same time, a screen based software artwork can be used for its decorative purposes and, according to Sacks, to hang from the wall like paintings used to hang (quoted in Vaderbilt, 2005). No matter at which end one’s preference lies regarding art, the artist should retain the freedom to design own tools and to be creative, despite how software computer equipment may be used, promoted, and displayed.
Along with technological development, new issues arise concerning the value and quality of the experience that art offers. Even though these may not be exclusive to current art forms, they are specific. Screen based software art has been introduced to the galleries and education, and has been explored to address notions of communication, intra-personal relations, and the relation between the body and its representations, as in the case of Cammille Utterback’s work. At the same time, screen based software art has been promoted as decorative art, finding its place between designer’s clothes, as in the case of Steven Sacks’s million dollar business.
Walter Benjamin (1968) argues that mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses towards art. Moreover, let us ask the primary question that theoreticians failed to rose about photography and film (Benjamin, 1968, p.227), redirected towards software art: Has the very invention of software art transformed the entire nature of art? Screen based software art has certainly changed the public’s expectations towards art, in the sense that artworks are no longer confined within the gallery walls and out of reach behind glass cases. On the contrary, screen based software art, characterised by accessibility and interaction, has revolutionised the experience of art. Screen based software art can push the interactive experience with art to the extreme, allowing the visitor to participate, to explore and, in Utterback’s Text Rain (1999) example, to create and to reflect upon the event of creation. This is so because software artworks can offer the experience as well as the realisation of this experience with immediate results that one can see and hear. In addition, complying to Benjamin’s preservation of “aura”, such artworks can remain mystifying and intriguing, never revealing too much of their complicated nature and always confiding different things to different people. Thus, screen based software art, through the subjective experience it offers, allows one to consider wider, social problems such as communication and estrangement. Finally, because the participant creatively interacts with the artwork, the separations among the “artist” (the one who designs the goods), the “artwork” (irreducible and solid), and the “viewer” (the one who enjoys the exposed artefact) are blurred. In short, screen based software art offers a new kind of art experience that affects the ways of doing and thinking about art.
All the same, issues of commoditisation and value shadow software art practices. The digital and software media are extensively being used by the industry for entertainment and advertisement purposes. As a result, these media are entangled in legal ramifications of copyright laws designed to control reproduction, use, and manipulation of information byrestricting access and by censoring content. At the same time, because of the multiple function of software art and the different market needs it covers, such creative practices will become more popular and reach a wider audience. Undeniably however, as the money value of software art products increases, profit control will become more stringent. Yet, I do not believe that software art, by virtue of its technicality alone, has lost its “aura” and has irrevocably caused art and commodity to merge in a virtual space in-between the real and the digital. It is on the hands of the artists, and the art institutions, to promote software artworks as art, as the ability to challenge everyday passivity and to raise social and ethical questions.
A final point that Benjamin makes, however, has yet to be answered. Benjamin is deeply concerned with the mechanical reproduction of reality as seemingly equipment-free. With reference to the surgeon who uses specialised equipment to enter the body, Benjamin (1968) argues that the camera man relies on technology to convey images of reality that otherwise would remain out of sight. By this exposure, which obliterates the painstaking effort and the technology required to retrieve such information, these images assume an autonomous status. An example would be documentaries about documentaries that show all the crane work, camera rails, and hanging microphones that surround the protagonists. For Benjamin (1968), what one is entitled to ask from a work of art is whether it offers an aspect of reality which if free of all equipment. I believe Benjamin is asking this question because for him the artwork, shrouded in its “aura”, should be autonomous and mystifying and at the same time offering an alarming experience. Screen based software art does not offer an equipment-free experience itself being in, and alluding the viewer into, the realm of technological advancement. But it would be far-stretched to argue that anything assisted by technology can never be art, and I do not believe that Benjamin’s comment was intended that way. Still, the lesson to be taught is that the value of art is to remind us that we are human beings, able to create, and in need of one another.