Walter Benjamin & The Decay of Aura by Diane Rarick
Walter Benjamin was a Marxist literary critic whose most popular essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”examined the connection between art and technology. His theory is that aura is a “strange web of space and time” or “a distance as close as it can be.” Aura is associated with the traditional, nostalgic notions of artwork and is lost with the onset of photography.
The aura of artwork is portrayed through its presence in time and space A sense of awe is perceived from its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.
Aura implies authenticity but there is no authenticity without its destruction in mechanical reproducibility. Confronted with its manual reproduction the original preserved all its authority.
The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition. The destruction of aura in mechanical reproduction signals the passage from the artwork as cult to the artwork as exhibit.
With the emancipation of the various art practices from ritual go increasing opportunities for the exhibition of their products. Technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself.
The contemporary masses desire to bring things closer spatially and humanly, while uniqueness is rejected by accepting its reproduction. Breaking the distance is widely accepted & favored
Photographs are infinitely reproducibleand are detached from the aura of the original. Early photographs retained some measure of aura by focusing on the human countenance – but as photography took on other subjects, “the exhibition value for the first time shows its superiority to the ritual value.”
The instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed. The work of work of art becomes designed for reproducibility.
The artistic performance of a stage actor is presented to the public by the actor in person; the actors aura is present. A film actor’sperformance isn't whole, it is done in several takes and camera angles. The connection to the audience is presented by a camera.
Film responds to the shriveling of aura with an artificial build-up of the personality outside the studio. The movie staris born to promote the art of film
Mechanically reproduced images, however perfect they are, are missing the point of presence—the presence of the object—that gives it its aura.
The loss of aura is now based in nostalgia. Mechanical reproduction makes way for modern experiences to enhance our future.