Artwork is something that can be very small and easy to understand, but it can also be complex while at the same time open up a world of beauty. John Berger and Walter Benjamin are two theorists that have their own particular thought on how art can affect the minds of the observers. Berger focuses on how each particular experience of an art piece can have a different impact on an individual. Benjamin has his own theory; one part that really caught my attention was when he stated, “War is beautiful.” Both theorists have very interesting thoughts and ideas that help shape those of people that have studied their works. A person can establish their own ideas and put them together and explain how a particular instance; therefore, shaping how one can interpret and connect with their everyday surroundings and life.
In this world, there are a billion different ways anyone can experience a single moment in their lifetime. Most of the time it all depends on the mood they are in and even down to the environment. Being in a particular location and actually seeing it in person is a lot more impactful than merely scanning over it within a textbook. For example, the Sistine Chapel is considered one of the most famous works of art ever created in the history of mankind. Having been painted in the beginning of the 16th century, one could say that it is definitely a huge part of history. One that can only be really experienced by physically going to Rome to look at the masterpiece that Michelangelo put more than four years of his life into.
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, everyone knows the story; cross star lovers that cannot bear the thought of losing one another so they choose death to be together forever. The tragedy has been redone, and retold so many time that it has changed the meaning and the way we have interpret the story. There are many remakes that are well done but don’t really focused on any other themes presented other than the romance. In the video episodes by John Berger, Ways of Seeing he states that the reproduction of art can be manipulated to change the way viewer see the piece of art. One of the first adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is West Side Story, it’s basically the same story but has been altered to address social issues in the early 1960’s. West Side Story addresses racial superiority in the plot. It also touches into gender superiority along with gang violence.
Even though art is a pathway to understand the relationship between oneself and another, reproduction of mystification, which is a false perception created by media in today’s world, intends to create boundaries and sustain them within limits for profiting purposes only.
Since the early 1970’s mechanically reproduction,sampling, of music has been one of the most prominent types of artistic reproduction. In the essay, “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Walter Benjamin, examines how a reproduced piece of art work affects society. He states that as you reproduce a work of art it loses its aura, originality, authenticity and individuality. This concept does not relate to the thousands of songs mechanically reproduced and sampled every day for commercial profit. As musicians mechanically reproduce an old song, listeners of the original piece travel back in time, recalls a feeling or a memory, and the first time listener finds a whole new experience. The music industry has set standards of copyright laws, the process can be complex, and some even question if it’s ethical, if it damages the original songwriter’s reputation and original song. However, today artists constantly enter into agreements and give permission for their previously published song to be included in new recordings. In this essay I will analyze, Fab 5 Freddy’s hit "Changed The Beat" and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s Grammy Award winning song "Thrift Shop" and develop a theory validating music sampling; consequently, I posit that mechanically reproducing music is beneficial as it makes it last longer through the generations.
John Berger stated that art changes in significance based on the situation; therefore your perspective of the art will change depending on your environment. I have always wanted to go up stage and play my accordion in front of a crowd and sing corridos. Corridos is a Mexican regional type of music that glorifies the adventures of narcs and their narcotic events; not to mention the U.S. one of their top consumers. Pedro Villa is the accordionist, the main singer and the composer of Grupo TR3S60 (360). The band or grupo is from Mexico to be exact from Culiacan, Sinaloa in the heart of where all the drug lords are born and raise. Even though many believe this is not art from my perspective it is it tells a story just like any other type of art.
Reproduction in the art world is a bad thing. With the invention of the camera we were able to see things, which were not in front of us. In the video Berger has a few words from Dziga Vertov’s manifesto written in 1923 allowing us to understand the point of view of a camera. Vertov sort of speaks on the cameras behalf and says that it is a machine and shows the world the only way it can see it. With the invention of the camera it not only changes what we see but how we see it. A camera reproduces paintings making them in any size, for any purpose and anywhere. Films were also affected by mechanical reproduction. I will be analyzing the film/ musical Grease and how this film based on Berger’s theory is affected by mechanical reproduction because it takes away the pilgrimage it becomes transmittable. The image travels to you and appears on a screen in front of you instead of us traveling to see where the film is being made.
Music is a work of art, just like painting and sculptures are a work of art. It is creative expression of emotion. Like many other works of art music tries to tell a message to society, it is up to the audience to develop or form their own message or understanding of that work of art. Sometimes the message is obvious and sometimes it can be extremely abstract.
I enjoy the poetic element in Benjamin's work regarding War and art. Its been argued before that war is beautiful, however, it’s not commonly presented in regards to visual art. Robert Zemeckis film Forrest Gump serves a good example of war within visual art. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it is by far my favorite film of all times. It was such a heartwarming film, it has all the elements that makes a good film and more. What The film is essentially about is Forrest Gump- the protagonist’s fascinating life. The main character kindly shares with strangers at a bus stop how he was born with a walking disability yet came to be an all american football player and how he ran across entire states just because he felt like it. Along with starting his own shrimp business that became very popular and a few other things he initiated, Forrest Gump also served in in the army during the vietnamese war. Although the film only dedicates a short portion of Forrest’s time in the war, it does present several elements of war. Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” ,John Berger’s Ways of seeing and the film Forrest Gump are not relevant to each other, however all three share a relationship within: visual art, war, reproduction and technology.
People have been spouting theory after theory about art and the way it is reproduced, but not many has done so to the extent of John Berger or Walter Benjamin. Walter Benjamin a respected German philosopher, social and literary critic, wrote “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” which helped inspired John Berger’s theories on reproduction. The art piece in question is called, “Fallen Stairs”. This piece was created by the earth and one of her tantrums, the January 17 1994 Northridge Earthquake to be a little more specific. I will be taking a closer look at, “Fallen Stairs” and interpreting the piece through Berger’s theory of reproduction. I propose that reproduction can be both a good and bad thing, when it comes to the viewer’s perception of the piece.