While there are many different ideas explaining what many theorist believe are means of art and reproduction non-have done so as Walter Benjamin. The theory I will be referring to is Walter Benjamin’s Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. One major idea Benjamin stresses most is the destruction of a works original use value and aura through the means of photographic and film reproduction. He makes the argument that any copy of an original piece of artwork lacks in certain elements of authenticity. Through the means of reproduction, different lenses are created by the audience depending on the various factors that may affect their view of the work. I will be analyzing Thierra Guetta’s “Life is Beautiful” and giving an analysis of this mural based on Benjamin’s work; therefore, I assert that reproduction allows audiences to experience a variety of understanding works ultimately changing its original use value.
The musical Across the Universe applies the theories of English critic, painter and poet John Berger in his film “Ways of Seeing” and German philosopher Walter Benjamin in his text “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Both men point out different significant ideas of art including reproduction of art, authenticity, ones view of the art and many more. The two main ideas that do apply to this film are the ideas of reproduction and the idea of observing art with music. As this is not an argumentative essay I am writing to express my thoughts of these men’s theory and acknowledge their reasoning’s but in some cases their theories do not apply. In this film the use of music provides the story a deeper meaning and the reproduction of the songs used enhance the meaning of each track.
A piece of art has many meanings behind itself. A sculpture has a story or a message behind it. It is made from an idea or based on one. Benjamin idea that an image loses its aura because of mass production is now seen in almost every piece of art or sculpture. The work that I am referring to is the work from Benjamin in the article “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” that stated that aura will never be the same as when you first see the object in its original place. The Aztec calendar is one of the most important sculpture pieces of art. The Aura of the Aztec has been altered because of mass reproduction. The Aztec calendar when it was created it was something so important to an entire civilization it had a purpose. The Aztec sculpture known as the Aztec calendar lost its original meaning as the passed and the meaning changed because people started seeing as just an image that would appear in varies places.
Theories of Benjamin, Berger and Myself
The film Forrest Gump really relates to Benjamin’s theory to reproduction and to Berger’s theory to how your placement affects how you experience an art. Forrest Gump is a very well known film for its touching story line and cinematography. The film has a star studded cast of Tom Hanks being (Forrest Gump). The movie is about a witty boy named Forrest Gump who is eventually going to grow up during various historical time periods. The time periods are from 1944 to 1981. The movie has a great depiction where Gump is a part of the Vietnam War and he goes through times of the Water Gate Scandal and the Hippie Movement. This movie has attained various academy awards and over $667 million dollars worldwide during its theoretical run. This movie is so iconic that it has been reproduced in various ways to bring pieces of the film to everyone. As Walter Benjamin had said in his most famous philosophical essay “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” that reproduction will destroy the true aura of an art in this case a film. Even though reproduction does distract from the original art it does great things to make an art more noticeable. Also in John Berger’s film Way of Seeing he says that the place you are in affects your view on the art you are witnessing.
Sometimes everyone just needs to take some time off in the middle of their day and tune the rest of the world out. And with the help of technology recently, this has become a lot simpler to do. Thanks to the inventions of portable music devices, people everywhere can now just stick their earphones in, blast their music, and ignore everyone and everything around them. And isn’t it crazy to think everyone creates their own special meaning of a song when they listen to it? If we were to choose just one song in the world right now and ask everyone in the world what that song meant to them, there would be no two exact same answers. In other words, because everyone is so unique in their own way, and because no two people have lived perfectly similar lives, and because all of us have experienced pain, heartbreak, death, love, depression, anxiety, joy, fear, etc. in different manners, no two people can interpret a song the same exact way.
While many philosophers formulated their own ideas and reproduction, not many philosophers have done so like Walter Benjamin. The work that I was referencing to was “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” one of his most famous philosophical article of all time. One of his main ideas Benjamin is concerning about is the shift of perception and its affects on human eyes. This results in different people to analyze different works of art in relation to the viewers’ eyes. Another main idea Benjamin mentioned in his theory is reproduction is always possible. For that, I will be analyzing “Early California”, a mural painted by Millard Sheets and giving a clear explanation and interpretation of this mural based on Walter Benjamin’s theory; as a direct result, I stand my position that reproduction let viewers explore the message of art and aura in more than one powerful ways.
Art may be described in a vast variety of options that mans’ emotions are expressed. Art cannot be defined by any means of category. It is to become the feeling the artist feels at the moment. Aura is an important factor to art, the aura of a masterpiece can become seen and felt once the art work is being envisioned by its audience. In the sculpture I chose I felt a certain way about myself that I feel when I begin to think of riddles or difficult math problems. Puzzled, I began thinking about the gun why it would be tied into a knot at the end of the barrel. The purpose of a gun is to shoot bullets and the gun I see is being bent apart from its purpose. But that was just my first impression of the sculpture.
Many theorists have projected their thoughts and theories in articles which they have written and who many have made their articles accessible to the public via internet. The philosophers who we have been focusing on have been Walter Benjamin and John Burger. Benjamin’s article "Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is the article which intrigued me the most, and it is also his most famous philosophical essay. One of his main points which is vividly mentioned throughout his essay is his theory of aura. He explains how aura has changed throughout time and will continue to change due to the lack of originality and creativity, by definition aura is the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place. Knowing the meaning of aura can change the way an individual looks at a piece of art because they will know how to actually appreciate the originality or the certain artwork. I will be analyzing the song “Fortunate Son” by The Creedence Clearwater Revival and incorporating it will Benjamin’s theory of aura and film production; consequently, I believe that when you listen to a song with visual context it gives you an emotional connection depending on the aura which surrounds you.
The majority of the world believes “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd is about students rebelling against the school system. In Walter Benjamin's essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” states that when you reproduce an art then the original isn't as special and the meaning of the original is ruined which also ruins the arts aura. Music is an art because the musicians use their creativity and emotions just like an artist does when he makes a painting. There have been so many covers of Pink Floyd's “Another Brick in the Wall” that it has caused the true meaning of the song to be ignored. Alice Cooper covers this song on stage right after he sings his own song “Schools Out.” That makes people think “Another Brick in the Wall” is really about students rebelling against teachers. I am going to analyze the true meaning of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" and how the reproductions of this song ruined the deep meaning it had originally.
In Walter Benjamin’s, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, he references that… “the unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value.” By this, Benjamin describes the importance of originality in art and how the aura can never be recreated as if it were the first time. Throughout his entire argument this seems to be the most important part that he uses as a foundation for several of his other arguments. While examining several films that portrayed various art forms that had hidden messages and themes, I decided on The Great Gatsby. A large part of that movie is the fight to try to go back and live in the past, which Benjamin clearly states in his argument, is impossible.