Sunday, January 14, 2018

"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" Reading Response

 Replication is the driving force of our world. It changed how we view and attain goods, and has created great debate in the idea of “authenticity”. As an artist between the traditional digital fields, the idea of “the original” has been an issue when creating, and often decides it's worth as art and importance to the long long of creation before it. Reading Walter Benjamin's “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” has stirred a lot of internal debate of what replication actually means to art, and especially, in film.

The issue of art reproduction can be broken down into two areas of worth: monetary, and the “aura”. It's interesting to have these polar opposites side by side, because it's sometimes hard to label art with both a grounded and spiritual sense on the same ticket. When discussing the “original” of an art, it is known that almost all art of substantial worth has enough fame to be copied and wanted beyond it's original self. This makes the original worth more because it is cult totem of this massive want. The other aspect, which gets trickier to analyze, is it's “aura”. This is that subjective beauty and flaws that creates connection to the viewer. Walter Benjamin evolves his point from 2D works to the work of actors to discuss his points, and this is where it gets tricky to lump these together. Yes, both have a soul to them because they are both human expressions through modes of art. But replicating a painting is replication for reproduction. Replicating an actor's performance through a camera for later viewing is an evolution of the acting craft. Both give aura, with little difference if art's definition and upgrade from were visual aesthetic is this intangible “life” that we have given it. Much can be said about this area along, but I won't take up much your time.
My understanding of this subject is admittedly low, so I will let my mind stream down, and hopefully a river will come. It seams to me the basin of this essay comes from defining originality. Immediately I asked: is purpose another form of originality? Because art is either the purpose of cult, of ritual, or for replication of something tangible (or intangible), then originality can be purpose. If art can be art for the sake of art, then can art that can live fullest only in original form be it's only purpose? Or even art? With tools of replication creating new additions to the world, it isn't fair to eliminate these new procedures and purpose from art that was created in a world where originality was the only purpose of art. It was how you documented the world and thoughts. So tools like the camera, a new world is created by these very tools. Not the old world, but a new one. New world by the act commonly called “remixing”. It's evolution in double time, and by new definition. Nothing is original with the argument that evolution is a gradient chain of necessity.



 I know it's easy for the youngin' with such clear hindsight be making such bold claims, and I say, why? I learn from those before me, and I can smell fear doused with self-justice perfume. So call me a pompous ass, but aren't most claims of what's right and wrong with any field of creation to early to call when the beast isn't done evolving yet?

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