The Art Work in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - Book Report/Review Example

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It shows the change in the way in which we see works of art and culture, given that they are now mechanically reproduced. Today’s art is detached from its…
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The Art Work in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
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The Art Work in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Introduction The book is an attempt of the to analyze the changes and experience of art in the modern capitalist society. It shows the change in the way in which we see works of art and culture, given that they are now mechanically reproduced. Today’s art is detached from its traditional place where it had a connection with cultic worship and religious worship. It is instead mass reproduced and copied.
How does Benjamin discuss the ‘Aura’ of an artwork? He does so in several ways. What are two ways he defines ‘Aura’. What is clear in his discussions? What is not clear?
The aura of an artwork is the art that withers in the mechanical reproduction age. The process involving mechanical reproduction of the artwork is symptomatic that has a significance that is beyond the realm of art. According to Benjamin, the aura can be tracked back to the origins of art that is embedded in objects that a tribe sees as sacred. The quality of the art is the aura of the whole art (Benjamin 223). The thing that makes aura is its inaccessibility. The worshippers or observers do it from a far distance, it was a cult object traditionally, and no one dared go near it. The mechanical reproduction technology, however, has dispelled the aura that came with any form of art. The artwork has been available for people to be able to visualize and feel it through endless reproduction. The continuous reproduction of the art provided a substitute for the original and real thing. It enabled the audience get a sense of ownership and accessibility of the real thing. According to Benjamin, the audience wanted to get closer to the art because of the uniqueness of each piece (Benjamin 224). The preciseness of the artwork that gave the piece its aura assimilates to the masses through mechanical reproduction.
The aura and authenticity of an image through the technological reproduction must be show and be a substitute for human being’s mysterious needs in viewing an image. The idea of authenticity, originality, and vanishing point of aura is a spell of capitalism. The vanishing point into the commodity spells capitalism. Since the time of high-end capitalism, the ego and one’s sense of aura and individualism makes a person an illusion. The individualism of a person had its expression in items and commodities that were substitutes of a person’s uniqueness. The time Benjamin wrote the essay on the aura of the artwork was during a crisis in Paris between the form of art and an individual’s freedom to choose a commodity. The system would make the aura wither. Mechanical reproduction, however, makes the aura of the artworks remain (Benjamin 231) as the art would be transported from one its original place to the present where people could possess and repossess it.
The cultural context of Benjamin’s essay was clear in showing that the writer was struggling between a misuse of “culture” and the liberation and possibilities of bringing people, art and the images they loved together. He understood the reason mechanical reproduction was necessary for the audience, but then again it seemed like it was destroying the original art culture.
Works Cited
Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations: Essays and Reflections; the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. New York City: Schocken Books. 1969. Print. Read More
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