This 1 does not exist only for books, it exists for any reproducible work. We can say this not only of “book” but also of “film”, “record” and so on.
In this sense, Benjamin’s famous assertion that reproduced work differs from our older notions of art in that it has no aura can be turned on its head: reproduced work leads us to suspect the existence of an ideal form of the work.
We never suspect a painting of existing outside its. We know exactly where The Night Watch is. It’s at the Rijsmuseum in Amsterdam; we travel to see it. But where is Alberto Korda’s portrait of Che Guevara? “In our heads.” In so far as we do have a notion of their ideal existence, it is precisely through their reproduction in magazines and coffee-table books and postcards and T-shirts. As though each new reproduction is an attempt to fix its location, another waypoint of triangulation. Paintings that come in series, as they often do, can also suggest that the artist is referring to some ideal form of the painting, approaching it from different angles, making repeated sallies at the disembodied subject.
- 1ambiguity of meaning between the object and the ideal form of the work