Art In Mechanical Reproduction By Walter Benjamin

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Walter Benjamin has in many ways throughout his work taken a Marxist fashion. Benjamin’s views of the transformation of art are that it has a significant effect of the change in economic structure. When briefly taking a look how technology has changed society, many would say that it had made our lives exceptionally easier. This being said, it has also come with a profound cost. Walter Benjamin in his essay “The Work of Art in Mechanical Reproduction” discusses photography’s impact on our cultural perceptions of art. He argues that photography lacks essential characteristics of more established forms of creative visual representation which is otherwise known as aura. With this there is a substantial shift for Benjamin between what is art in …show more content…
Art is beginning to have a shift from contemplation to unequivocal distraction, which therefore creates an enormous change in the way people perceive and sense things. Historically we can understand that certain works of art had aura. Durham and Kellner (2012) explained that aura is “the unique phenomenon of distance, however close it may be”. (P.40). This in reference to the Mona Lisa, or “The Starry Night” painting by Van Gough. This can also be known as emancipatory art, something that can raise consciousness and force us to engage in critical detachment which primarily focuses on detached intellectual contemplation. This is also connected with the idea of authenticity. The idea of authenticity cannot be reproduced. If something is constantly being reproduced then that authenticity or aura is inevitably lost. Benjamin argues that “mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses towards art, the reactionary attitude toward a Picasso painting changes into the progressive reaction toward a Chaplin movie” (p.45). As mentioned above traditional works of art are viewed through distance contemplation. As more modern cultural forms came into play such as film, photographs, and even TV shows, they all lead to the demise of contemplation with information overload. They are something that the viewer would experience as agitating or taxing to experience. …show more content…
It is interesting and fundamentally important to note that this was Walter Benjamin’s prediction back then, even though technology at that time was nowhere close to being as advanced as it is now in our society. It is stated that “ just as water, gas and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our needs in response to minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign” (Durham&Kellner, 2012,p.

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