Marc Pachter (2002). Ross Parry [Ed.] Museums in a Digital Age.Ch. 32. Pp. 232-235. London: Routledge, 2010.
Pachter appeals to sentimentality to attempt to elevate the transcendence of the “authentic” Art-Masterpiece beyond that of a perfectly replicated copy (though nanotech-assembly). However, this argument makes authenticity seem superficial and little more than a generation’s mourning for the loss of the “authentic original” in the age of the perfect copy. No materiality can lay claim to an empirical source of authenticity nor originality unless – according to Pachter – the object/entity is itself, a “witness” to history (p. 333). Despite Pachter’s sentimental attachments, the fact that an “original” artwork was a witness to history is merely a piece of conceptual trivia and not inherent in the residual aesthetic output of the “Masterpiece”.
Pachter desperately appeals to the emotions by claiming that “liveness” (p. 334) will always be desirable as an authentic experience that future technologies could never replicate. Ironically, he never mentions how liveness itself will soon be replicated with similar means (i.e. nanotech combined with future developments in Artificial Intelligence). Again, with personalities being routinely synthesized and remediated in the near future (Bainbridge 2006), “live presence” will also be perfectly replicated without any sense of “originality” nor “authenticity” behind live performances. In a surreal fashion, “authentic original” entity-molds will be left to ramble to younger generations about how they were once a “witness” to the days before the perfect copy. Unfortunately, these younger generations might use the more derogatory application of the word “relic” to these individuals and remove all previous religious semantic associations with the word. Contrary to Pachter, I believe that authentic-ness only contains a temporal mystique and is institutionally treasured only before the perfect copy has been developed.
Admittedly, there is something to be said for an original artifact being a lone “witness” to a historical event. However, this appreciation can only be conceptual and that – especially in the Nanotech age – there would be no way for anyone to empirically validate that a copy is different from the original unless insisted on by an official cultural representative (i.e. museum guide, critic etc).
If anything, Pachter should re-evaluate the transcendental nature and purpose of art(ifacts). For Kant in 1790, there were two kinds of beauty. One was Free Beauty – independent of contextual background (esp. historical background) and the other type of beauty to consider was Adherent Beauty (contextually dependent) (Kant 1790 in Pluhar 1987:53, 229-232). True “originality” and “authenticity” in any cultural artifact or mentifact transcends its usual museum and corporate cultural context as a collectable commodity. Also, the most “timeless” object/entity is always something above its mere historical context as it is more than merely something that was the “first” to appear.
William “Sims” Bainbridge (2006). Strategies for Personality Transfer. Terasem Journal. http://www.terasemjournals.org/PCJournal/PC0104/bainbridge_01b.html
Kant, I. 1790. Critique of Judgment. Werner S. Pluhar [Trans.]. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1987. ISBN: 0-87220-026-4.