Artist as Engineer. “The Author as Producer”

October 31, 2007 by stanza Leave a reply »
stanza artist robots 2002 - 2010

stanza artist robots 2002 – 2010

stanza artwork

Walter Benjamin (in ‘The Author as Producer’ of 1934) describes the shift in the role of the cultural producer ‘from a supplier of the productive apparatus, into an engineer who sees his [/her] task in adapting that apparatus thus reconciling the means of intellectual production with technical quality’.

‘An author who has carefully thought about the conditions of production today… will never be concerned with the products alone, but always, at the same time, with the means of production. In other words, his [/her] products must possess an organising function besides and before their character as finished works.’ (1983: 98)

The essay recommends that the writer (artist, cultural producer) must reflect upon their position within the production process like a technician, demonstrating expertise alongside solidarity. This alliance is necessary to transform him [/her], ‘from a supplier of the production apparatus, into an engineer who sees his task in adapting that apparatus’ (1983: 102).

All references to Walter Benjamin, ‘The Author as Producer’ in Understanding Brecht, trans. Anna Bostock, London: Verso 1983; written as a lecture for the Institute for the Study of Fascism, in Paris, April 1934. A more recent translation is available in Michael W. Jennings, ed, Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2 1927-1934, trans. Rodney Livingstone et al, Cambridge, Mass. & London: Belknap Press of Harvard University 1999, pp. 768-782.


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