Fleeting Authenticity

June 25, 2016

 

 “The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity” (Walter Benjamin). The idea of authenticity exists entirely outside technical data. An object’s authenticity is the essence exuded by the sum of its experiences and subsequent effects – in other words, an item’s personal history. Because of the profound connection between history and creation, tradition has become indivisible from a work of art. This inexplicable sensation can be described as an object’s aura. A work of art, even before completion, is instantaneously compared to everything that ever came before it. An object’s aura is created through comparison, to either history or the viewer or both.

 

Through mechanical reproduction, humans have been able to liberate art from its inherent reliance on ritual. With the coming age of mechanical reproduction, we have freed art from history but consequentially we weaken the aura of any work of art with the use of these techniques. Less of the original is present in a reproduction. There lacks the evidence of time and history. Photographic reproduction holds the power to create art free from the constraints of our natural world. With the assistance of production processes, like enlargement and slow motion, cameras are able to capture images elusive to natural vision. While these images may be beautiful and captivating, they intrinsically lack a piece of the real world. As we create newer and ever more simple tools, the process behind an object becomes stripped away. Less went into making the thing, so less is going to come out of it.

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