Walter Benjamin used the word aura to denote the spatial, historical, locational context, and provenance of a work of art. Aura, though, is a method to talk about the social construction surrounding a work (Benjamin). The concept allowed Benjamin to examine the social and political implications of the new tool of photography and other recently invented mechanical reproduction methods. Benjamin suggests that the reproduction of a piece of art or other work dissipates the aura of the original – that is the copy destroys the context and provenance of the art. He, however, admits that increased exposure does increase the number of people considering the work. Aura can also be considered a measure of influence too; the more important a work, the more significant it’s palace in the world and its historical content the more people are interested and thus it has more aura. The concept of aura is useful tool for examining the complexities of digital viewing of extant art and the creation of new works in digital mediums, where calling something the original is less meaningful.
The period of time before (and after) Walter Benjamin’s paper was tumultuous. There were inventions of a variety of technological innovations including lithography, film and the 35mm camera. World war one which destroyed many places in Europe, and forced many to consider the destruction of artworks through bombing, looting, and other means. Art work has of course always deteriorated due to time, but rarely is decay due so immediate and significant. The destruction of the original also left in some cases only a photograph as a residue of the original object. The rise of fascism and Marxism and the production of vast qua...
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...s it mean when everyone can create content on the fly and share it with a potentially immense audience? Twitter has even reduced the burden of publishing to a sentence’s worth of characters. Tumblr has done the same, it doesn’t even require the creation of content just the curation of content.
Digital technologies allow work to be endlessly recontextualized by consumers on a multitude of devices in a variety of places. Digital works of art can also be reproduced with perfect fidelity; is there aura attached to either or is the aura spilt amongst the copies? Is the aura separate from the digital manifestation of the original work? Is the idea of aura still meaningful in a period where everyone has the tools at hand to easily and quickly create a new work? Is it possible now with the help of search engines and social media to measure the aura of a digital work? Expand
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