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Chapter 6

Week 6 - Benjamin & Althusser Textbook Notes

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Department
English
Course Code
English 2200F/G
Professor
Matthew Rowlinson

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Week 6The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical ReproducibilityWalter BenjaminThis work introduces Benjamins seminal concept of aurathe unique quality traditionally attributed to an artwork giving it a special status equivalent to that of a sacred object in religious ritual Benjamin argues that the status of the artwork is not timeless it changed with the advent of capitalist mass production which dispelled its unique aura and revered standing by devaluing the concept of the original Benjamin speculates that social transformations induced by technological changes in production alter aesthetic perception itself He contrasts painting with film noting that the stream of images in film promotes a deepening of apperception and that the closeup among other techniques furthers insight into the necessities governing our lives These are benefits of the reproducibility of art In contrast to painting or orchestral music film has revolutionary potential because it abolishes authenticity and aura and enjoins the participation of the audience In his essay Benjamin discusses a shift in perception and its affects in the wake of the advent of film and photography in the twentieth century He writes of the sense changes within humanitys entire mode of existence the way we look and see the visual work of art has is different now and its consequences remain to be determined Benjamin attempts to mark something specific about the modern age of the effects of modernity on the work of art in par
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