Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Summary of Benjamin’s Work of Art Part

Walter Benjamin wrote as a political writer in the interwar period. He proposed that art as a whole had changed and was able to be used as an engine for political and social change. He felt that technologically produced art like photography and film had changed how people feel about art.
The “work of art” does not refer to a piece of artwork but to the labour or task it will perform and how it will do so.
Benjamin believed that popular beliefs of linear narrative history would change so that multiple experiences would be voiced.
Mechanical reproduction differs from manual reproduction
-mechanical reproduction does not need to be mediated, initiated with a human body.
-mechanical reproduction can be created at a far greater speed.
-mechanical reproduction is capable of reproducing other arts.

So how do we place value on art that is pre-modern? We give the


piece the highest value.
The original’s place in history is unique because of its history (weathering, ownership, etc.) There can only be one original

The Aura contains some of the properties of authenticity of the object such as how the object has endured.

We desire to appropriate images due to capitalism. We value things in their exchange value rather than their material value. We want to own things for the sake of it. We do not have a close relationship to what we own because we didn’t make it. Our perception of things accompanies the decline of aura (we are more skeptical). According the Benjamin, authenticity in mechanical reproduction can not exist.
This emphasis on authenticity and aura is lost in mechanical reproduction. The Mechanism can, however show us things in the original that can not be seen by the naked eye (maginification).
Pre-modern art always related to the sphere of ritual. Once art is divorced from ritual from its loses its sacred value.
To make up for the shriveled aura, Hollywood plays up their stars and the public’s desire to know them. The public feels they are participating by being interested in them. The actor sells their shadows and are therefore detached from their work

Tue, November 10 2009 » Futurecinema_2009, early cinema, history