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Abstract

Archiving is undergoing a grammatological shift that began with the invention of photography nearly two centuries ago. Walter Benjamin was the first to theorize the age of sampling, and he did so by drawing heavily on the work of the Surrealists. In his essay on Surrealism, he writes: “a collection is composed of objects wrenched out of their contexts of origins and reconfigured into the self-contained, self-referential context of the collection itself, and this context destroys the context of origin.” Robert Ray comments on Benjamin’s insight: “The Arcades, surrealism, cinema­—these events, Benjamin began to realize, were not discrete; they were all part of what he would later call, in the now famous phrase, ‘the age of mechanical reproduction’” (41).

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