Leonardo’s Hands

“[David] Hockney valued painting because of the medium’s relationship to time. According to him, an image contained the amount of time that went into making it, so that when someone looked at one of his paintings, they began to inhabit the physical, bodily time of its being painted.”

Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

The original Mona Lisa lies in The Louvre behind bulletproof glass. I imagine if I stand before it one day I would feel Leonardo’s presence because his hands touched that very canvas.

Compare that with a copy of the painting we might find on Google Images. For a start, in the digital realm of the internet nothing is physical so we automatically lose the “physical, bodily time” Odell spoke of. Also, in that disembodied realm, we can make infinite amounts of copies, which begs the question: do we, with each successive copy, depreciate the value of the original?

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