An idea externalised once is transient or maybe cabalistic, but once reproduced it becomes the driver of culture whether through print in books, or industrial processes in plastic toys. The need to reproduce in symbols and language naturally leads to discretisation: each ‘A’, whilst written differently is the same letter, each LEGO brick needs to be the same to connect to the next. Reproducibility led to the emergence of industrial and consumer culture, and was essential for the growth of Amazon; and yet in an age of reproduction, scarcity is often the core of value and we seek singularity and irreproducible experiences. Oddly, we then capture the transient in recordings from cave paintings to Flickr. In an age of unremitted recording, the ‘infinite archive’, it seems we ‘capture’ everything, and yet the recording is decontextualized, potentially devaluing or humanising the experience, challenging our notions of privacy and enabling fake news.
Keywords: Reproducibility, Digital copy, Industrial culture, Consumer culture