User:Emily/RW&RM/Trimester 02/02

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'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin 1936'

A work of art has always been reproduced in order to achieve practice, diffusion and pursuit of gain etc. Mechanical reproduction of a work of art represents something new. When lithography began to keep pace with printing, it surpassed by photography, the same situation being revealed, when the pictorial reproduction could keep pace with speech, it foreshadowed the sound film. The technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to produce all transmitted works of art and thus cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public.

History and authenticity demands for presence of the original, because even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art lacks of its presence in time and space, what’s more, the authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible and historical testimony rests on the authenticity. However, technical reproduction is more independent and may would put copies out of its original context. It enables the original to meet the beholder halfway. The eliminated element in the age of mechanical reproduction is subsumed in the term "aura". Making many reproductions leads to a circle shattering the tradition, by which a plurality of copies substitute for a unique existence. And then after permitting reproduction to meet audiences in its own particular situation, it in return reactivates reproductions . Film is the most representative agent, liquidating of the traditional value of the cultural heritage.

Human sense perception changes according to nature and historical circumstances as well. New perception developed along with an art different from antiquity. Social transformations are expressed by these changes of perception. And if changes in the medium of contemporary perception can be comprehended as decay of the aura, it is possible to show its social causes. It is revealed in two circumstances: the desire of contemporary masses to bring things closer spatially and humanly; the bent of desire towards overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction.

The aura of art works as its uniqueness has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value. It is recognisable as secularized ritual even in the most profane forms of the cult of beauty. Whereas, art reacted with a certain theology, which gave rise to pure art. An analysis of art in the age of mechanical reproduction must do justice to these relationships. Mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual. The total function of art ceased to be based on ritual, it begins to be based on politics.

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