Benjamin states, “reproduction as offered by picture magazines and newsreels differs from the images as seen by the unarmed eye,” (4). I agree. This image of mountains offers me a sliver of it grandeur beauty. I cannot completely experience the “aura” that Benjamin remarks about (6). I can relate the clouds behind the mountain to the clouds I’ve seen at Mt. Hood. I can imagine the smell of the crisp air, similar to the air I’ve experienced before. However, I am not actually at this place. If the environment had a new sense it could offer me, I would not be able to experience it. I wouldn’t know if the mountains offered a sulfuric smell that would create nostalgia, or if the rocks are as sharp as they seem. I believe to fully experience the aura that the environment offers; all of my senses must be stimulated.
The reproduction of this image only offers my eyes a piece of its aura. One cannot interact with this environment. Benjamin similarly compares this with a live performance versus a movie, “the audience’s identification with the actor (film) is really an identification with the camera,” (8). Using this photo I’m identifying past experiences with the image the camera allows me to see. If I was actually there, I could feel the different effects that the environment would have, a change in weather perhaps. Resulting, in different emotions I would experience from interacting with the environment. Benjamin states, “For aura is tied to his presence; there can be no replica of it,”(8).
Here’s the picture and here is the permalink to the picture if you want to see a larger image.
Larger Image Here
This post will center focus on Walter Benjamin’s idea of the aura with relation to the image attached to this post. Benjamin’s idea of the aura is “the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be” (4). He further goes on to say that this aura decays as it progresses. This is what I am aiming to represent in my image. Looking at it from left to right or top to bottom, one can see on the left the green tree with life; however, as it moves towards the right, this decay of death is seen through the tree on the left. This tree looks rather dead. This is also depicted in the image from top to bottom. The blue symbolizes life and moving down it gets cloudier until the plants are shown rather dead as well. The idea that auras degenerate over time is stated by Benjamin as well by stating that the masses remove the uniqueness of an item by having it constantly reproduced (4). This means that as more and more of the same reproductions come into availability, the item loses it’s value. I once read a book called The Cave by Jose Saramago who was a potter. He usually sells his items to a mall which would then sell his wares to buyers; however, this one day, his work is refused due to the reason that the bowls he makes out of ceramic have no more value or use because of the new plastic bowls that can be made and bought for cheaper for more profit.
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Tagged #Walter Benjamin, Art, Aura, Benjamin, Death, Decay, dtcv, Google, Google Street View, Images, Stuff, Tradition, Walter