الاثنين، 30 مارس، 2009

The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction

By Walter Benjamin

Here is a review upon this article by Benjamin and what it talks about in general. The work of art is reproducible, its mechanical reproduction represents something new and with the time it was developed with a fast strength. “Founding and stamping” were the only two procedures known by the Greeks for work of art reproduction. After them came woodcut then printing or lithography which was an important case about the mechanical reproduction of writing. Later the pictorial reproduction was born with photography. The technical reproduction was in 1900 an artistic process. A perfect reproduction of a work of art does not exist because it will always be missing for something. The reason behind this is that you can never find that reproduction at the same time and place where it happened; so it has a unique existence which was a main focus at a certain time during which it faced many changes and physical conditions. To know more about the physical conditions, chemical and physical analysis are needed to be done but this is impossible to be acted upon a “reproduction”; and to know why there are many changes you need to go back to the original situation. Human sense of perception is determined through the historical circumstances. With the new inventions and developments that were made, there was a new kind of perceptions. Rigel and Wickhoff were the first to conclude the “organization of perception” without referring to the social transformations. If you decompose the distinctive qualities of the contemporary perception then you will see its social causes. The uniqueness of the work of art is fixed in tradition which is alive and changeable and this means how different cultures and societies see and define things from different perspectives. The “authentic” work of art is basically in its ritual function and the place of the original use but the work of art was liberated from its reliance on the rituals by mechanical reproduction and it became designed for reproducibility so there is no need for the original anymore and the ritual was replaced by politics. With the photography the cult value was replaces by the value of presentation; but the cult did not disappear immediately it was still found in remembering the dead and the beloved… with the mechanical reproduction, the function of art has changed and in the 19th century the artistic value of painting opposed to photography was deceitful and confusing. The resulting of that change was the development of the film. There is a difference between a stage actor and a film actor. The first one experience a direct relation with the audience but in the second case the audience is the camera with which the audience is viewed from different sides like the real audience sees the actor on the stage. The approach of the camera is “testing” which is not an approach that cult values are exposed to. In the last century many readers became writers and there was an increasing in the field of press. The difference between author and public became functional. This transition (author/writer) is also applied to the film and this transition was faster in the field of film than in literature. A magician, a surgeon, a painter and a cameraman; all make work of art because each one, in its way, with mechanical equipment offers an aspect of reality. The attitude of masses toward art is changed by mechanical reproduction of art. When it was a “progressive” manner to respond to “a grotesque film”; the audience will respond in a “reactionary manner to surrealism”. Art seeks to create a demand to be fulfilled later; with pictures and literature Dadaism tries to create the effects which the public nowadays seeks in the film. In a work of art, by concentration, the person is completely captivated; by distraction, a habit can be formed to control a certain task. The cult value is moved away by the film; the audience is put in a “position of critic” and became an absent minded inspector