Short’s intervention confers aesthetic autonomy on the discrepancy between the original and the copy caused by a technical inadequacy that is usually considered a fault, when photocopying a text or an image. He entrusts the composition of the image to the photocopier and limits his creative intervention to the viewpoint or format of the image. Gerard Richter had already employed accidental technical alterations to the image, such as the blurring of a photograph, and had elevated them to a stylistic feature of his painting. Short’s painting takes actual errors as its subject matter, the marks generated by dust on the glass surface of the machine and hence the unexpected effects created by technical reproduction. Moreover, both Richter and Short employ a device like the episcope to faithfully project these images onto the canvas, thus avoiding subjectivity and the creative construction of the motif.
This approach can be analyzed in the light of Walter Benjamin’s reflections in his famous essay The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproduction. Short tackles the theme of the loss of the artwork’s aura by reversing the terms of the discourse: it is the machine that supplies the model for the work of art, which acquires its aura of originality and uniqueness through an error in the mechanical procedure that is elevated in the form of paintings. Short’s works can therefore be interpreted as a kind of obituary for the so-called analog era, in which a mechanically produced copy, unlike a digital image, is never identical to the original.