Piracy Cultures| Benjamin, BitTorrent, Bootlegs: Auratic Piracy Cultures?
Seventy-five years ago, Walter Benjamin showed us that the line between “production” and “reproduction” had begun to blur. Reproduction was no longer optional, consequential, and degrading (the shredding of the original’s aura), but was instead being transformed into a principle of production itself: Something was produced bearing in mind how it was to be reproduced. No longer did the original exist (in photography, film, music recordings), but instead, there was diffusion, exhibition. The work existed precisely at the time and place of its enjoyment. Today, the cultural pirates of the new digital era take this principle to the extreme, with a certain characteristic also foreseen by Benjamin: a yearning to participate, to post-produce something captured in order to later return it to the Internet, modified in some way and made available to others. This postproduction is what is now often mixed up with reception, just as production and reproduction were in Benjamin’s day. Postproduction on the receiver’s side, which somehow augments and extends the received work—in other words, creates an etymologically rigorous author-ization (auctor as the root of both author and augmentation). The cultural pirate only deserves redemption thanks to this creative augmentation.