Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226131191 Published September 2015
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The Art of Mechanical Reproduction

Technology and Aesthetics from Duchamp to the Digital

Tamara Trodd

The Art of Mechanical Reproduction

Tamara Trodd

368 pages | 72 color plates, 62 halftones | 8 1/2 x 10 | © 2014
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226131191 Published September 2015
E-book $10.00 to $50.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226178172 Published September 2015
The Art of Mechanical Reproduction presents a striking new approach to how traditional art mediums—painting, sculpture, and drawing—changed in the twentieth century in response to photography, film, and other technologies. Countering the modernist view that the medium provides advanced art with “resistance” against technological pressures, Tamara Trodd argues that we should view art and its practices as imaginatively responding to the potential that artists glimpsed in mechanical reproduction, putting art into dialogue with the commercial cultures of its time.

The Art of Mechanical Reproduction weaves a rich history of the experimental networks in which artists as diverse as Paul Klee, Hans Bellmer, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Smithson, Gerhard Richter, Chris Marker, and Tacita Dean have worked, and it shows for the first time how extensively technological innovations of the moment have affected their work. Original and broad-ranging, The Art of Mechanical Reproduction challenges some of the most respected and entrenched criticism of the past several decades—and allows us to think about these artists anew.

Introduction. The Art of Mechanical Reproduction

1 Mnemotechnics
Oil-transfer * Investing in drawing * Apparatus * Camera-seeing

2 Seeing Machines
The panorama device * Collage * Large Glass/shop window * Ball-Joint, Rotoreliefs, Guitar

3 Camera Vision
Painting shadows * Automatic drawing * Screening the body * Screen memories

4 Xeroxing the Medium
Working Drawings * Mapping “systems” * Photo-plus-text * The dialectical image

5 Painting at a Standstill
Don’t look now * The stilled and moving image * Pathos formulae

6 Farewell to the Machine Age?
The film machine * Mechanical ballets * Dean’s long lens * Film machines after film

Review Quotes
Times Literary Supplement
“Both thoroughly contextualised and supported by close visual analysis at every turn. . . . [Trodd] deftly moves between artists, objects and modes of production to chart how technologies have shaped creative practice as the age of machines gave way to the age of information. . . . That Trodd is able to guide us . . . not by grandiose statements on the contemporary state of things, but by locating signposts throughout the recent past, is testament to her skill.”
“Trodd explores a wide range of media beyond photography and film, including transfer drawing, collage, ready-made sculpture, and photocopying.  She also explains the psychological significance of specific techniques adapted by artists, such as Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘camera vision’ and the networks and systems underlying conceptual art. . . . Recommended.”
ARLIS/NA Reviews
“An insightful look at how mechanical reproduction may be seen as the essential influence in art's evolution from modernism at the dawn of the last century through to the contemporary art of today. . . . The Art of Mechanical Reproduction is a valuable addition to collections in the areas of art theory, modern art, and contemporary art. Scholarly, richly annotated, and finely produced due to the quality of its reproductions, paper, and binding, this is a volume that should age well intellectually and physically.”
Film Quarterly
“A scholarly and often brilliant reading of the complicated relationship between aesthetics and the notion of media. . . . Trodd directly acknowledges Benjaminian inspiration, delivering a captivating and convincing account of how new practices of mechanical reproduction profoundly influenced key advances in modernist art.”
Oxford Art Journal
Trodd illuminates key moments in the history of modern art when new technologies transformed artistic practices. Organised chronologically over six chapters, Trodd harnesses the materials and processes of mechanical reproduction and reception as a common thread to weave together the work of such diverse artists as László Moholy-Nagy, Pablo Picasso, Hans Bellmer, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Smithson, Gerhart Richter, Andre Tarkovsky, and Tacita Dean, among others. â€‹Seeking to upend the 'inherited cultural tradition' that informed modernist historicism along with its hold on medium specificity, the author constructs an invigorating, alternative historiographical narrative.
Washington BookReview
The Art of Mechanical Reproduction is one of the best books on the subject of how changing technologies gives birth to new artistic values. . . . A must-read for those who are interested in arts.”
Alexander Potts, University of Michigan
“Trodd’s analysis stands out for its level of thoughtfulness and intellectual sophistication and for its perceptive and inventive engagement with larger theoretical issues that have been debated intensively in the art historical literature of the past few decades. The book offers a way of moving beyond the closures of current thinking on the vexed question of how picturing and drawing practices have been reshaped by the technologizing of the image in modern media.”
David Lomas, University of Manchester
The Art of Mechanical Reproduction is adroit and well informed across a broad swath of modern and contemporary art; it is bold and fearless in tackling heavyweight writers in the field, and the literary standard throughout is exceptionally high. The fine-textured visual analyses and Trodd’s weave of cross-connections bind together what on the surface are quite disparate case studies. A most impressive work.”
Margaret Iversen, University of Essex
“Trodd’s book is original, rigorous, and written in a lively prose style. It engages with theories of art following Walter Benjamin concerned with our interaction as subjects with the technical image. The ‘post-cinematic’ art she analyzes is born of an encounter with the machine. Instead of bemoaning that encounter, Trodd conveys something of the early avant-garde’s excitement in the new technology while also maintaining a critical edge. Her excitement is contagious.”
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