Music and Vision homepage


eMuse (TM) by Jeff Talman


Technology and the Postmodern

<< Continued from page 1

Authenticity and Aura

To Benjamin the authenticity of the art object allows for its value, which is codified by its use in ritual. This is extended from primitive religious ritual to the secular cult of beauty, or art. Authenticity is based on the unique, singular character of the object as an independent object. The independence is represented by aura, or that which has been eliminated by the act of mechanical reproduction:

'that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the
aura of the work of art. By making many reproductions it
substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in
permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in
his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced.
These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of

Apparently for the first time in history the object of ritual - art, seems to have appropriated a sense of self-consciousness beyond apprenticeship and homage:

'To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of
a perception whose "sense of the universal equality of things" has
increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique
object by means of reproduction.'

Benjamin goes on to denounce art for art's sake as an errant reaction to mechanical reproduction, a 'negative theology,' that 'denied any social function of art...'

Continue >>


Copyright © 26 February 2000 Jeff Talman, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA


 << Music & Vision home             Past eMuse features >>