"Fountain is one of Duchamp's most famous works and is widely seen as an icon of twentieth-century art. The original, which is now lost, consisted of a standard urinal, laid flat on its back rather than upright in its usual position, and signed 'R. Mutt 1917'. The Tate's work is a 1964 replica and is made from glazed earthenware painted to resemble the original porcelain. The signature is reproduced in black paint. Fountain is an example of what Duchamp called a 'readymade', an ordinary manufactured object designated by the artist as a work of art. It epitomises the assault on convention and good taste for which he and the Dada movement are best known.
The idea of designating such a lowly object as a work of art came from a discussion between Duchamp and his American friends the collector Walter Arensburg and the artist Joseph Stella. Following this conversation, Duchamp bought an urinal from a plumbers' merchants, and submitted it to an exhibition organised by the Society of Independent Artists. The Board of Directors, who were bound by the constitution of the Society to accept all members' submissions, took exception to the Fountain and refused to exhibit it. Duchamp and Arensburg, who were both on the Board, resigned immediately in protest. An article published at the time, which is thought to have been written by Duchamp, claimed, 'Mr Mutt's fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bathtub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers' shop windows. Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view - created a new thought for that object.' ('The Richard Mutt Case', The Blind Man, New York, no.2, May 1917, p.5.)"
(Sophie Howarth, April 2000)
"Tucked away near the last stop of Line 9, the satellite settlement of Thames Town opened in 2006 as part of Shanghai's One City, Nine Towns program, with low-rise apartments and gated complexes designed to house 10,000 residents. Despite an intensive marketing effort (including a beauty pageant), the community failed to take off, and what's left is a ghost town -- and an ideal place for a quiet afternoon stroll.
As its name suggests, the design of Thames Town is inspired by England, with a main square, red telephone booths, streets named High, Oxford, and Queen and, of course, its very own man-made Thames river. If you start to lose yourself in your surroundings, worry not: images of Haibao have made it out here to reassure you that you are, in fact, still in Shanghai."
(Frances Woo, 22 January 2010, CNNGo.com)
Fig.1 Anthony Skriba. 27 April 2010. 'three separate wedding parties', stillgoingnative
Fig.2 Sarah Low, 2009. 'Boxing Day / China Trip: Day 10 and 11'
"In principle a work of art has always been reproducible. Man-made artifacts could always be imitated by men. Replicas were made by pupils in practice of their craft, by masters for diffusing their works, and, finally, by third parties in the pursuit of gain. Mechanical reproduction of a work of art, however, represents something new. Historically, it advanced intermittently and in leaps at long intervals, but with accelerated intensity. The Greeks knew only two procedures of technically reproducing works of art: founding and stamping. Bronzes, terra cottas, and coins were the only art works which they could produce in quantity. All others were unique and could not be mechanically reproduced. With the woodcut graphic art became mechanically reproducible for the first time, long before script became reproducible by print. The enormous changes which printing, the mechanical reproduction of writing, has brought about in literature are a familiar story. However, within the phenomenon which we are here examining from the perspective of world history, print is merely a special, though particularly important, case. During the Middle Ages engraving and etching were added to the woodcut; at the beginning of the nineteenth century lithography made its appearance.
With lithography the technique of reproduction reached an essentially new stage. This much more direct process was distinguished by the tracing of the design on a stone rather than its incision on a block of wood or its etching on a copperplate and permitted graphic art for the first time to put its products on the market, not only in large numbers as hitherto, but also in daily changing forms. Lithography enabled graphic art to illustrate everyday life, and it began to keep pace with printing. But only a few decades after its invention, lithography was surpassed by photography. For the first time in the process of pictorial reproduction, photography freed the hand of the most important artistic functions which henceforth devolved only upon the eye looking into a lens. Since the eye perceives more swiftly than the hand can draw, the process of pictorial reproduction was accelerated so enormously that it could keep pace with speech. A film operator shooting a scene in the studio captures the images at the speed of an actor's speech. Just as lithography virtually implied the illustrated newspaper, so did photography foreshadow the sound film. The technical reproduction of sound was tackled at the end of the last century. These convergent endeavors made predictable a situation which Paul Valery pointed to in this sentence:
'Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our needs in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign.'
Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes. For the study of this standard nothing is more revealing than the nature of the repercussions that these two different manifestations - the reproduction of works of art and the art of the film - have had on art in its traditional form.
Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original.
The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. Chemical analyses of the patina of a bronze can help to establish this, as does the proof that a given manuscript of the Middle Ages stems from an archive of the fifteenth century. The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical - and, of course, not only technical - reproducibility. Confronted with its manual reproduction, which was usually branded as a forgery, the original preserved all its authority; not so vis a vis technical reproduction. The reason is twofold. First, process reproduction is more independent of the original than manual reproduction. For example, in photography, process reproduction can bring out those aspects of the original that are unattainable to the naked eye yet accessible to the lens, which is adjustable and chooses its angle at will. And photographic reproduction, with the aid of certain processes, such as enlargement or slow motion, can capture images which escape natural vision. Secondly, technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself. Above all, it enables the original to meet the beholder halfway, be it in the form of a photograph or a phonograph record. The cathedral leaves its locale to be received in the studio of a lover of art; the choral production, performed in an auditorium or in the open air, resounds in the drawing room.
The situations into which the product of mechanical reproduction can be brought may not touch the actual work of art, yet the quality of its presence is always depreciated. This holds not only for the art work but also, for instance, for a landscape which passes in review before the spectator in a movie. In the case of the art object, a most sensitive nucleus - namely, its authenticity - is interfered with whereas no natural object is vulnerable on that score. The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced. Since the historical testimony rests on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardized by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardized when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object.
One might subsume the eliminated element in the term 'aura' and go on to say: that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art. This is a symptomatic process whose significance points beyond the realm of art. One might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind. Both processes are intimately connected with the contemporary mass movements. Their most powerful agent is the film. Its social significance, particularly in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage.
During long periods of history, the mode of human sense perception changes with humanity's entire mode of existence. The manner in which human sense perception is organized, the medium in which it is accomplished, is determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well. The fifth century, with its great shifts of population, saw the birth of the late Roman art industry and the Vienna Genesis, and there developed not only an art different from that of antiquity but also a new kind of perception. The scholars of the Viennese school, Riegl and Wickhoff, who resisted the weight of classical tradition under which these later art forms had been buried, were the first to draw conclusions from them concerning the organization of perception at the time. However far-reaching their insight, these scholars limited themselves to showing the significant, formal hallmark which characterized perception in late Roman times. They did not attempt - and, perhaps, saw no way - to show the social transformations expressed by these changes of perception. The conditions for an analogous insight are more favorable in the present. And if changes in the medium of contemporary perception can be comprehended as decay of the aura, it is possible to show its social causes.
The concept of aura which was proposed above with reference to historical objects may usefully be illustrated with reference to the aura of natural ones. We define the aura of the latter as the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be. If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch. This image makes it easy to comprehend the social bases of the contemporary decay of the aura. It rests on two circumstances, both of which are related to the increasing significance of the masses in contemporary life. Namely, the desire of contemporary masses to bring things 'closer' spatially and humanly, which is just as ardent as their bent toward overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction. Every day the urge grows stronger to get hold of an object at very close range by way of its likeness, its reproduction. Unmistakably, reproduction as offered by picture magazines and newsreels differs from the image seen by the unarmed eye. Uniqueness and permanence are as closely linked in the latter as are transitoriness and reproducibility in the former. To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose 'sense of the universal equality of things' has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of reproduction. Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing importance of statistics. The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception."
(Walter Benjamin, 1935)
 Walter Benjamin, 1935. 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' (extract narrated by Michael Prichard), Redwood Audiobooks, MP3 Podcast, 6.3 MB; running time is 13 minutes.
 Complete text of the essay, US English translation
 Complete text in German
"Welcome to the new Acropolis Museum. 188 years since the declaration of the Greek Independence, 33 years since Constantinos Karamanlis took the far-sighted decision to built it in this particular site, and 27 years since the campaign of Melina Merkouri, a duty is fulfilled and a dream is realized:
A whole nation's duty to its own cultural heritage; the new Acropolis Museum. The paramount monument of Ancient Classical Times now has its own Museum - at last. In difficult times people need symbols to hold tight and stand straight. The Grand Opening of the new Acropolis Museum may be such a symbolic event. Where the Aesthetics of Logic, the Ethics of Freedom and the Rationality of Beauty, are all fused together and carved in stone for eternity. Acropolis hasn't stayed intact over the centuries. Yet it is still radiating its Beauty and its Truth.
This unique embodiment of ideas, ideals, moral standards and aesthetic values is needed now, more than ever. And we enjoy these, for the first time in a Modern Museum deserving to the historical Monument. Take a tour in it. Appreciate its atmosphere and its exhibits. Be inspired by its transcending message. It is Greek because it is Ecumenical. It is ours only to share it with the rest of the World. And please, remember: What you will discover is not just a part of our History. It is also a part of our soul, of who we are...
There are strong, sacred bonds, connecting us with every single item, from the humblest archaeological fragment to the most ornate figure. All of the artifacts are parts of our soul... Mostly the ones missing! With the anticipation that eventually - better sooner than later - they will be re-united in their birth place and in the integral form they were meant to be."
(Antonis C. Samaras, Greek Minister of Culture)
"My Fake Baby explores the lives of women who spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds on lifelike baby dolls known as 'reborns'. Some have beating hearts and tiny veins. They are loved like real babies, cuddled and taken for walks. Doll designer Jaime [Eaton] – a mother of four – fulfils the dreams of other women by engineering babies to their specifications in her front room. Adoptive 'mothers' include women whose children have grown up and left home and women unable to have children of their own. It would be easy to dismiss all this as sad, strange and just plain wrong, but it gives great comfort to those involved."
(David Chater, The Times, UK)
[UK Channel 4 TV series 'My Fake Baby', approx. 45 min., Director: Victoria Silver, broadcast: Wed 2 Jan 2008 22:00]