Revelation in Reproduction: Walter Benjamin’s Prophecy and Steve Reich’s Process

Andrea Weatherman Kikkert


This article examines Steve Reich’s reflections on his early works in the context of Walter Benjamin’s thesis in “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility.” While Reich shows a similar attitude to Benjamin’s toward changes in human perception, Benjamin’s notion of auratic demise is challenged by Reich’s understanding of the role of technology in music and the effects of music as a gradual process, which asserts that attributes such as impersonality support artistic autonomy rather than precluding it. According to Benjamin, aura collapses due to changes in audience reception during the age of technical reproducibility, yet Reich drew inspiration from mechanical processes in order to reclaim meaningful audience participation in music. This comparative study provides the opportunity to both consider Benjamin’s ideas anew and deepen our understanding of the minimalist musician’s contributions to contemporary art. (AWK)

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