The contested concept of “reproduction” stands at a critical nexus of the conceptualisation of Early Modern artistic thought. The early modern period has been characterised by the development of novel and efficient reproduction technologies, as well as the emergence of global empires, growing interconnectedness through trade, warfare and conquest, and the rise of new markets and cultures of collecting. This ethos of innovation and cultural exchange was, however, contextualised against myriad contemporary ideologies still rooted in the values and legends of narratives of the past. Reproduction stood at the centre of this dichotomy. Set against the context of changing cultural tastes and the increasingly overlapping public and private spheres, ‘reproductions’ were involved within changing viewing practices, artistic pedagogy, acts of homage and collecting.
The idea of reproduction connotes a number of tensions: between authenticity and counterfeit; consumption and production; innovation and imitation; the establishment of archetype and the creation of replica; the conceptual value of the original and the worth of the reproduction as a novel work of art; the display of contextualised knowledge and the de-contextualisation of the prototype. At the same time, production is shaped historically through practices and discourses, and has figured as a key site for analysis in the work of, for example, Walter Benjamin, Richard Wolin, Richard Etlin, Ian Knizek and Yvonne Sheratt. Participants are invited to explore reproduction ‘beyond Benjamin’, investigating both the technical and philosophical implications of reproducing a work of art and seeking, where possible, a local anchoring for the physical and conceptual processes involved.