The Work Of Art And The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction

1320 Words6 Pages
In order to properly argue my point it is best to lay out the framework of Benjamin’s argument. Benjamin begins his essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by briefly distinguishing his categories from traditional aesthetic values, those of “creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery” (Benjamin, 218). In contrast, he relates these tendencies to bourgeois and fascist ideologies and to the conditions, inevitably generated out of capitalism itself, which provoke “revolutionary demands in the politics of art” (217-8) Benjamin claims that in times past the role of art has been to provide a magical foundation for the cult. Here the artwork’s use value was located in its central position within ritual and religious tradition (223-4). A statue or idol conveyed a sense of authority, or magical power, which inhered in that particular historical artifact. The reproduction in mass of such an item would have been unthinkable because it was a unique singularity, and it would lose its “aura”. He focuses on describing the objects aura, defining the aura as: We define the aura of the later as the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be. If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch (222-3). The term implies an atmosphere and a transcendent feeling that happens when you experience an object.
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