Luke Niebler

Just the Fax, Please.

Luke Niebler

Q: How to troubleshoot a fax machine? 

My fax machine cannot receive nor send fax. It was in working condition every day.

 

A: Looking at your fax machine from the perspective of Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay, “Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit,” we can see that the fax machine performs a vital function in relation to creative work. By allowing for mass production of a so-called “original,” it removes the special “aura” that makes art valuable. Once you send a fax, there are simultaneously two (or more) “originals” that can be experienced simultaneously. Therefore, the value produced by having to travel to view the original is lost—there is no more irreplaceable presence behind the work of art. By producing a “facsimile” of the “original,” the idea of authenticity is smashed to the ground and thus works lose commercial value. When your fax machine was working, you were actually undermining the capitalist basis of Western art.

 

To return to your problem, maybe try turning it on and off? If that still doesn’t work, transform your office into a 24-hour art gallery where you display the things you WOULD have faxed; then people will still have access to them without losing the aura of physical presence.