The Original in the Digital Age

Doron Avital, Karolina Dolanska


In 2021, an NFT of a digital artwork by the artist @beeple was sold for $69 million. This sale is the starting point for a logical-historical journey tracing the fate of the Original in the digital age. We follow the footsteps of two seminal works exploring the concept of the Original, the celebrated The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin and Nelson Goodman’s book, Languages of Art. We examine two case studies: the Lost Leonardo - a recently surfaced painting claimed to be by Leonardo da Vinci, which remains highly disputed, and the grandiose saga of van Meegeren, the famous counterfeiter of Vermeer’s works from the 1930s and 1940s. Both tales are read as fascinating detective stories. We provide an analysis of our own that anchors the idea of the Original with the logic of Singular Rule - thereby giving structure to the ‘one-of-its-kind’ property that we associate with the Original. Our final remarks discuss the relevance of our analysis to the digital art of today.


Digital Art; The Original; Singular Rule; Walter Benjamin; Nelson Goodman

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ESPES. The Slovak Journal of Aesthetics (ISSN 1339-1119) is published biannually by University of Presov, Slovakia and the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia. Registration number of the journal in the Register of Periodical Publications of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic: EV173/23/EPP.

   This journal is open access and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.