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The Migration of the Aura – Exploring the Original Through Its Facsimiles

Bruno Latour, Adam Lowe

Following the marvelous example provided by the fac simile of Veronese’s Nozze di Cana in San Giorgio in Venice and constrasting this case of a good reproduction with the catastrophic restoration of Holbein’s Ambassadors, the paper explores the reason why common sense has so much difficulty with the notion that a facsimile may actually add new layers of originality to the original –contrary to the thesis so much popularized by Walter Benjamin’s essay on mechanical reproduction. Contrary to this too famous essay, the paper argues that digital technologies have nothing « slavish » nor « mechanical » about them, and that facsimiles allow to peel away the many layers composing the originality of a work of art –to the point when a painting too, algough so obviouvsly material, can be taken as an instance of performative art.