The Aura of the image as it relates to photography in Walter Benjamin's essay "The art in the age of mechanical reproduction"

Essay by KristenphotoUniversity, Master'sA, November 2006

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Walter Benjamin states, "The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being

imbedded in the fabric of tradition. This tradition itself is thoroughly alive and extremely

changeable.". This statement shows that Benjamin was aware that art is fully capable of

adapting as society changes. It is these inevitable changes in technology that has

transformed art and the production of art. The digital world allows for an infinite field of

exploration and artistic creation. Art has become more dependent on technology thus

expanding our capabilities.

At the time that Benjamin wrote this article he recognized the importance of

mechanical reproduction as a means to further inform the masses but he believed that the

"aura" of a work of art was lost in the translation. He also discusses the reproduction of

photos and points out that viewing the authentic or original photograph is essentially a

moot point because of the ease of the photographic reproduction.

I agree that viewing an

object of art such as a painting or sculptor in person certainly does impart an aura to the

viewer and the reproduction or photography of this work does lack the ability to instill

the same feeling of aura. With this said I believe that the aura of a photograph can still

exist as long as the reproduction of the photograph maintains the quality that the artist

originally intended for the viewer. This aura can also be affected not only by the quality

of the reproduction but also by the size of the reproduction. If an image is produced by an

artist at a particular size, this image is intended for the viewer in this form therefore the

reproduction must be on the same scale and quality to impart its aura to the viewer.

Through technology aura can even be...