In thinking about theorists whose work would be relatable for my case study on tattooing, I’ve begun to think a lot about Walter Benjamin, particularly his piece “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Tattooing technically predates the industrial age, but I am focusing on contemporary tattooing within the US. The technology available for body art is pretty impressive. Technology has connected with technique, and there is a strong case to be made supporting tattooing as fine art. Many many are unique and very carefully crafted, there is also a trend of having popular and class art replicated into a tattoo.
Benjamin speaks to the loss of art’s “aura” in the age of mechanical reproduction, arguing that as a piece is reproduced and replicated it loses its aura – historical context, meaning, what its meant to instill, inflict, etc. Suddenly, anyone or everyone can have a Mona Lisa, right there on their body.
I think I’d like to look more closely at the pros and cons of the reproductivity of classical art into tattoos, as I think this is closely linked to the overarching debate for or against tattooing in the American society and class system