Cultural heritage in the age of new media

Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, constitutes one of the earliest reflections on the way in which the cultural experience and interpretation is transformed by the advent of what were then the ‘new’ media technologies of photography and film. Benjamin directs attention to the way in which these technologies release cultural objects from their unique presence in a place and make them uniformly available irrespective of spatial location. The way in which old media technologies apparently obliterate the place of cultural objects is also a feature of new media. However, the apparent obliteration of place that occurs in this way is itself problematic, in giving rise to a loss of the sense of spatial and temporal distance, and so of the relative locatedness of both experiencing subject and interpreted object. The loss of a sense of the place of the object threatens a loss of the sense of place of the subject, and with it, a loss of a proper sense of heritage as such.
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