Saturday, September 26, 2009

Emergence by Steven Johnson

As I read this selection from Emergence, I’m thinking: This is fascinating. But what on earth does it have to do with class?

Question: where do the male ants come from? If they’re only alive for a day, how do lady ants birth male ants and then reproduce with them? This I must find out. Or if the queen is the only one to reproduce, how does she lay eggs in the first place? I like that the question of the chicken or egg came up, I feel my question is in the same category.

I’ve read Jane Jacob’s Death and Life of American Cities and, in all honesty, it is boring, and rather uninsightful. She states things that seem obvious; observations that anyone living in a city could make (e.g. parks are useful because of the businesses and housing around it; if it’s just a park, no one will use it).

This reading definitely switches gears from participatory art, but it is not quite clear where we’re going next. I think I mostly retained information about ants after this reading.

I'm definitely interested in doing another participatory art exercise, but I'm not sure which one would work best.

Gabriella DiFulvio - Class Scribe 9/24

During our class period on Thursday we attempted to complete a participatory exercise by a member of our class, Nick Stango. Nick's idea had to deal with a physical means of communication only, no talking or writing allowed. An image is displayed on the screen and based on your views you would move to one side of the room or the other. Before we began the exercise as a class we discussed what would be gained from participating? A few members of the class brought up the point that while an image may not directly affect you, you don't have to be indifferent to it. Once the rules were clearly agreed upon we began the exercise. Some of the pictures displayed included : Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Michael Jackson (Circa Jackson 5 and Post surgeries), Hugo Chavez, President Obama, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Something that I found interesting was the reaction of people to the two different Obama images displayed. The first one was a photo used on his campaign trail with the word PROGRESS stamped across the bottom. The second image was one of Obama more relaxed, not posed, laughing. The reaction of students was to agree less with the campaign photo and more with the casual image of Obama. It was obvious that rather than agree with the propagandized image of Obama, more students enjoyed viewing our president in a more laid back setting. Overall the exercise was successful and allowed us to become more comfortable with each other while seeing others viewpoints as well.

After completing Nick's participatory exercise we took a look at the Arcades Project website. As discussed in class, Arcades were thought of as a series of stores and shops, that would give you access to an array of things. The Arcade Project website was originally developed as a literary project that used quotations and ideas from different writers and put them together to describe our culture. The idea to distribute all products of cultures to everyone is similar to the dissemination of information that takes place on the internet daily. The URL is :

Thursday, September 24, 2009

participatory exercise for Sept. 24

Participatory Experiment
My idea for our class interactive art would be a responsive game designed to learn a little bit about everybody in the class without the use of words. Verbal and written information is excluded from this activity so we can explore communication without the use of our common vernacular. Okay. So the general idea is that there are two sides of the room. One side is the side of agreement. The other reflects an attitude of disapproval or disagreement.... To what?... An overhead projector or some other method of displaying a visual aid. This visual aid will be one of many globally controversial people, ideas, conflicts, etc. For example... If the picture displays Fidel Castro and his Communist Cuban regime, then those who agree with the man and his movement will move to one side while the others stand to the other side.

There should be a clear divider of the room as this next part is important. The degree to which a person may agree or disagree is also important to the detail of this project. Touching the far wall of the one side will show that one (dis)agrees strongly with his/her opinion. And of course the reverse to that would be that standing/sitting close to the divider may suggest a less aggressive stance on the topic.

And finally, the third rule of this participatory experiment is installed to give credit or not to give credit to ones opinion. This part is also left to the honesty of the participants. One may stand, squat, kneel, or lie flat on their belly. Each persons physical posture will resemble how much they REALLY know about the subject presented to them. For example... If I knew nothing about the topic of Fidel Castro, then i will lay flat on my belly (and should therefore probably be close to the center too) If i know a bit more then I'll kneel. The taller my physical stance, the more I am claiming to know about the provided topic.

These three rules/actions may only take a couple minutes each, so this can be accomplished for a number of topics. We can learn about each others views on different worldly matters while taking part in a unique learning experience. We are also being artistically expressive.

-by Nick Stango

TheWork of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

In reference to the article, Walter Benjamin explains fully how the work of art is diminished by the tools of mechanical reproduction. Walter explained that the authenticity of art depends on the originality. And mechanically reproducing art is said to be forgery since it lacks originality. He said the work of art has always been reproducible, artifacts could be imitated by men. Therefore one of the differences between man made artifacts and mechanical reproduction is man made artifacts is considered ancient while mechanical reproduction is known to be new. Founding and stamping were two ways the work of art are being reproduced. For instance, shiny metals such as Bronze, terra cottas, and coins were easily reproduced in quantity. However, other work of art could not be mechanically reproduced. During the middle ages engraving and etching was another source of mechanical reproduction. In the nineteenth century, Lithography led to the new age/stage of reproduction. This is when art designs are traced on stones rather than on wood. According to Walter Benjamin, Lithography enabled graphic art to illustrate everyday life, it began to keep up with printing. However, photography surpassed lithography in reproduction due to its fast capture of image. Being able to adjust images to a certain angle after capture signifies how authentic work of art could be fabricated.
Walter Benjamin argues that “The mechanic reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses towards art.” In photography, images could be fabricated by the use of studio tools. This shows that in photography the work of art lacks its authenticity. With the use of mechanical reproduction, our experience on the work of art is expanded by using these new tools. We use these forms of mechanical reproduction to find ways of creating work of art either for entertainment or for personal purposes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Definite participatory action...and hilarious

Thought this was a great representation of topics we have discussed in class, but above all, its just hysterical and deserves a good look through...

Recently Realized Participatory Action

This may be backtracking a little...but recently I was on my facebook and realized how when people write a song title or propose a question, they receive many responses. If someone says something about what are doing hardly anyone comments; however, I wrote song titles such as "under pressure" as my status and people either listed what they felt pressured by..finished the popular lyrics by queen and david bowie, or inserted emoticons. The less you put about you, the more people put about themselves.

John Curall-Interesting video

I found this interesting video.

I don't know if you watch the Emmys.

I personally don't, but there was a segment on there about internet video that I thought was entertaining and relevant to our new media discussions.

Here is the link to watch it on Youtube:

If your not familiar with this, the group doing the segment got nominated and won an Emmy in the first ever category Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Program.

Im not sure if your aware of this internet short movie called "Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog".

It was made by one of my favorite television writers during the writers strike.

He is a television writer/show producer that is very interested in exploring the internet medium.

If you have not seen this video, let me know and I'll try to find it for you.

It's a lot of fun!

Group 3


Danielle Reedy

Sorry I don't know last names

Group 2 - Design Study #1

I told one of you to send out an e-mail to the group members with the individuals' contact information but that obviously did not happen. So everyone from Group 2 please comment on this post with your name, e-mail, and phone number.

Thank You,
Charly Joung

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Design Study #1- Group 4

Topic: The OULIPO: Raymond Queneau, Francois LeLionnais, Italo Calvino and others

Group Members: John Curall
Daniel Speers

Amanda Distefano

Mike Lagrosa

John Curall-Scribe of the day 9/21

We had a pretty weighty discussion today about "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". This was a pretty expansive discussion so hopefully I took good enough notes. Please feel free to add anything I missed. Here are the points we discussed:

- Before we started our discussion of the reading we talked a bit about the "Mixed Body" Performance. Professor Drury explained that the reason she asked us to see this performance and will continue to suggest these kinds of performances in the future is that it helps to see some of this stuff we are talking about in action rather than just in readings or on a computer screen.
- We also discussed the group projects a bit. Professor Drury asked us to post our topics and group members on the blog. Also, she will make forums for each of us on the Blackboard discussion board for our course that we can use for group communication.
-We then started talking about todays article: "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" by Walter Benjamin. We started this discussion by saying that it was very difficult to define the main points of this article and that much of it was somewhat contradictory. Is he saying that mass reproduction is a good thing?
- Check out Daniel Spears' post on the blog about this reading. He pasted a portion of the article into his post that he thought best summed up the article. We all agreed that this was a crucial section for understanding the main points of the article.
- The author talks about how we've lost the power of ritual that gave art works their "aura". In return mass reproduction has brought us greater accessibility and politics.
-How is it Political? It gives people people a voice in art that they did not have before. Art can now be taken to a new level of commentary. By combining things you can become a a new kind of author.
- Again is the author saying this shift is a good thing or bad thing? It is not really clear. He seems to believe that art has lost some of its power in this transformation. He is mourning the loss of what he calls the "aura" of artwork. We are now alienated from the process. Yet he seems to see the benefits of reaching a larger audience. This is where that contradiction comes in. Perhaps he himself is conflicted.
- We talked about how we need to navigate the good and the bad that comes with the mass reproduction culture we now live in. The tools of mass reproduction can be used for both empowerment and propaganda.
- A major point of this article is also "reception in a state of distraction".
- We extended our discussion into film in this new culture. We talked about how media, especially fim, conditions our senses. Like the way in which we see things. People tend to view themselves now as if they are in a movie. Film sets up certain visual expectations. The perception is given to the viewer. We tend to construct our experiences now in terms of film language.
- The "authentic experience" is changed by the mass media experience. Does this lead to a "watering down" of these experiences? Are we numbed by these experiences? We question wether we a present. Mass media creates more distance, like the distance we have from excessive violence we see on the screen, while at the same time it brings us all closer to the action than we normally could get.
- We each bring different life experiences to this viewing which changes our perception of it.
- We are left with the fact that "authenticity" is no longer a requirement of art. Politics are the replacement. Not politics as in government, but more that different ideologies are brought to art. Each person brings a different perspective.

Group 1 (original cast)

Topic: DADA Performance Artists: Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings; Oskar Schlemmer

Caitlin Cherry

Michael (not sure which one)

Jesse Papineau

Zach Rocchino

Jake Woolf

Design Study 1: Group 7

Members of Group 7:
Grant Reighard
Brian Panebianco
Bernadette Tierney
Ryan Bercaw

Topic: Early Video Art (Nam June Paik, Steina & Woody Vasulka, et. al.)

Art in the age of Mech... Daniel Speers

As I was reading the article i discovered a paragraph that described the entire article in a neat little package and I believe it is very helpful for everyone to read it in this short concise package in order to fully understand the ideas being conveyed.

An analysis of art in the age of mechanical reproduction must do justice to these relationships, for they lead

us to an all-important insight: for the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the

work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual. To an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced

becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility. From a photographic negative, for example, one can

make any number of prints; to ask for the “authentic” print makes no sense. But the instant the criterion

of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed. Instead

of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice—politics.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Walter Benjamin makes some interesting points and observations in his groundbreaking work "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." He asserts that people perceive original works of art to have much more value than their reproductions or copies because of the "aura" these works give off. The aura is comprised of the society the work came from, it's perceived value, and the mysticism associated with it being a unique artifact of reverence. He believes that in some ways the mechanical reproduction and copying of these images devalues them and widens the audience too broadly by making them widely available to everyone instead of being super-exclusive works of originality.

However, Benjamin also feels that bringing these works to a mass audience could alleviate some of the mysticism and untouchability of these classical works and make art more accessible. The fact that everything is a copy of everything else in some fashion makes the "originality" of a work seem less important.


In order to fully understand where Walter Benjamin rooted his stance in this essay, we must first understand the time period in which he wrote it. It was during the height of the great depression, when in American society there was little to be optimistic about. The fact that Benjamin even took time out to write about art and the reproduction of art at such a time in history is quite astonishing, but in a way understandable. I say this because of the overall negative outlook by a wide variety of people about capitalism. These opinions, while not directly addressed by Benjamin, are evident in the underlying themes of his essay.
For instance, he states art reproduction is a direct result of a productive capitalist society. Now although not explicitly stated, we can assume that in other words, capitalism is so goal orientated in money making that it rarely stops for anyone or anything to appreciate its artistry. In Benjamin's eyes, photography merely helps perpetuate this very fact.
However, after this is established, he never again seems concerned with captialism or his opinions about it. Rather, I found that he focused his time much thereafter on the physical re-painting or sculpting of a piece of art. He rules out photography as detrimental to the original; in fact, he states it can be seen as its own entity and piece of art because of what new insights it may unveil about the original.
Overall, I think Benjamin did a wonderful job in anticipating how art, through the help of photography and film and their ease in capturing a moment, would be viewed in future times. He states they would be seen as merely exhibition rather than to display ones religious beliefs.

Mixed Body - Rob Stone

What I enjoyed most about the Mixed Body presentation on Friday was not only how immersed the crowd was in the performance, but how this immersion created a connection between performer and spectator that blurred the line between the two. The performers were not simply reacting to the participants in the audience, they depended on them. This created a sort of bond between the two typically separate parties that is rarely replicated in the ordinary performance.

The only thing I didn’t quite understand was the segment where the dancers were absent from the stage and there was only blocky, pixelated fragments of images shifting around on the screen while various phrases were broadcasted to the audience, most of which regarding something about the technology behind the show. Most likely nothing more than a segue, I still thought it was somewhat odd, in an ominous, 1984 sort of way.

Altogether I found the experience to be - admittedly, a tad surprisingly - very enjoyable and a fine way to spend part of an afternoon. All the hard work that undoubtedly went into putting the show on definitely paid off.
Walter Benjamin makes several claims questioning the effects of film and photography on the "art object". He states that with the invention of photography, detailed reproduction of art, when compared to traditional methods, was accelerated and made accessible to everyone. Benjamin makes the point that photography is not authentic. Many pieces of artwork is three dimensional, for example, and cannot be fully captured by a picture. On the contrary, Walter says that film and photography involves the masses, which is a positive characteristic.

Jesse Papineau - Technological Reproduction

I read The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility which helped to clarify many of Walter Benjamin's ideas for me. Benjamin states that art that is seen without the aid of photography or film has a sort of ambiance to it that is somewhat lost in translation. However, a photograph is most often the art itself, not what is being shot. For example, many 'artists' have taken pictures of garbage using various lighting techniques and unique camera angles that can make up a rather original work of art, yet the garbage is just that – garbage. It's interesting to read someone's hesitations about two art forms that have been around for so long. Just as we discuss the artistic merit of viral videos and Twitter feeds, Walter Benjamin was challenging his generation's technological advances, only to come to the realization that they are here to stay.

Chris Thomas 9/22 Reproduction

I figured I would blog both the reading and the dance performance together, so here it goes! To begin with, I thought the dance performance was interesting. It was able to blend to mediums together in a unique and unifying way. Normally we take dance in as both sound, sight, and rhythm, but now we add a picturesque quality to the dancing. We focus on not only the movement, but the artistic value of the scene upon which they are dancing on. That and the fact that the performance is based on current images, it makes the performance unique in many ways.

Now, with the reading, Benjamin is making the argument that with mass reproduction the core value of art is depreciated. This reminds me of a book we read in my Media Arts class, in which the author makes the same sort of argument. He states that we apply meanings to art. Now a days, we usually appreciate a piece based on what it is, or what it's history is; not necessarily for its intrinsic beauty. While this isn't the same argument Benjamin makes, it is along the same lines. Since the ability of work to be mass reproduced, art loses a sense of creative ownership. Whom is now the artist? The creator, or the machine that created it? We also lose a sense of context, with mass reproduction. One can no longer feel what the piece is about in its true nature, one only sees it as they wish to see it.

But, I actually think that this has allowed art to move in a new direction. Art over the past hundred years, has become more subjective. The viewer can now look at art in any setting, without any previous knowledge about the piece, and make their own subjective interpretation of the meaning of that particular piece. We no longer need to understand context, for the viewer makes it for themselves. I think art has also moved in this direction though. If we look at Renaissance painting, we can tell what is going on because the painting is clear and concise, but the viewer barely adds their own interpretation to the work. However, as art moved into abstracter territory, like impressionism, cubism, post modernism, the painting's meaning became more vague; and this allowed for art to be subjective. This all compiles into a more viewer friendly, relativistic art world though, but one I can enjoy more than classical painting.

the reproduction of art

Walter Benjamin is saying that our experience of the "art object" is diminished by the tools of mechanical reproduction. I believe that it is better that it gets mass produced even tho it may loose its Aura. More people can see it.  Cameras have changed art so much that it even makes art a little less valuable because the average person could easily pick up a camera, point and shoot and have an instant piece rather then hours of hard work for one painting. Just like Benjamin's reason for saying photo or video reproduction will diminish its Aura. The value will be much less

Laura Napolitano on Mechanical Reproduction

I found this article to be very interesting. It was hard to get through both times I read it (had to read it about 2 weeks ago for my media and culture class). I definitely agree with Benjamin's discussion about the "aura" changing or being completely lost once a work of art is reproduced. An example that was used in my other class is that of a musical performance. A concert by say, Dave Matthews Band, cannot be experienced more than once. The audio recording of their live performances cannot duplicate the sense of actually being there.

Similarly, works of art that were created hundreds, even thousands, of years ago have a different "aura" than they did when they were first created. Cave paintings, to use Benjamins example, were meant for the spirits or Gods that cavemen believed in at the time--something we can now only imagine. We can only compare our own current religious symbols to those paintings to only partially know the meaning of those paintings on the cave walls.

We may know what has happening at each point in history when a work of art was created, but we will never completely understand it because we haven't lived during the time period. Things are different in so many ways: culturally, socially, politically, economically, etc. Even today, a work of art has a different meaning to different audiences. An ancient Chinese painting has a completely different meaning to a Chinese citizen than it does to an American and vice versa. A Native American legend won't mean the same to someone of Cherokee descent as it does to someone of Flathead Salish descent, let alone to someone of a completely different culture like the Chinese.

Technology has made such an impression on art. In a sense, technology is an art in of itself. A still photography and films are works of art, but the subjects they portray do not do them justice. A documentary on Italy will never help us to completely understand what happened in the Colosseum or Pompeii thousands of years ago. Neither will a still photograph of the current city. Yes, both are art, but both are not an accurate representation of the culture as the subject. The "aura" has been changed.

Reproduction of Art

In the paper, Benjamin explains how our experience of the the art object is diminished in a number of ways. Primarily he talks about the invention of photography as something that somewhat diminishes art in that it means that images, rather than be painstakingly painted, can simply be snapped. Even in a situation where a photographer pays attention to composition, lighting, framing, and other techniques to elevate his photos to a type of art, the fact that it can easily be reproduced, and mass distributed diminishes some of the aura of seeing the original of say a painting in person. It becomes something that's easily googled. He also talks about how motion picture has also dimmed the aura of performance, comparing a movie to a stage performance. With a stage performance, the audience is able to see the entire space all of the time, as well as be constantly aware that what is before them is an illusion, relying on the performance of the actors to bring them into the world. However they can just as easily focus their attention anywhere else. In a movie, the view is through the camera, so we can only see what the camera sees, that is, what the filmmakers want. This gives us a more sterile, streamlined, and linear way of perceiving things.

Benjamin however also does say that mechanical reproduction can expand our experience of the art object. It's something I believe comes back to participatory art. Basically although taking a snapshot of something is a very easy and repeatable task, photographs can also be used to manipulate images, focus on specific things, such as distort or blur the view for the purpose of communicating a whole new message to be found in the original image.

Reproduction of Art

In his essay, Benjamin is critical of the modern technologies that enable anyone to essentially reproduce a work of art, namely through photography and film. He claims that a reproduction of a work of art does not give off the same sort of feel or authenticity of the original. It's "aura", as he coins it, is diminished in the productions of lookalikes and copies. Benjamin states that this is also the case with photography and film, and that such works of art produced via these methods does not exude the same aura of the subject. Hence, our experience of the "art object" is diminished.

Though anyone can really just pick up a camera and take a picture, it really does take a special eye to make a work of art in the field of photography and film. The photographer is able to enhance an image, or to make the viewer see the subject in a new, never-before-seen way. Does this not make the subject in itself new? Won't the image produced be original in its own accord, i.e., a work of art? It will exude its own aura, different from the subject. It does not necessarily lessen the value of the original, the subject. Nor is it to be considered inferior to the subject or original.

Though Benjamin claims that our experience is mostly diminished by mechanical reproduction through photography and film, they also serve as a way for art to reach the masses in ways though impossible. The speed at which photography and film is produced and brought to the masses is phenomenal. In other words, they bring art to the people on a large scale.

9/22 Reading Response

Benjamin claims the experience of the "art object" is diminished by tools of mechanical reproduction like photography and film. Benjamin points out the importance of an art object's originality and natural "aura", and explains how mass reproduction or replication of an art object diminishes this. I agree with this, if an artwork is replicated or reproduced, the original loses value. I don't just mean monetarily, it loses value in terms of originality and overall specialness.
Benjamin goes on to point out that the same tools of mechanical reproduction have also opened new doors for the "art object" as well. While the photograph may take away from an object's aura, it can be reproduced and distributed world wide. It can change our perception of the object, notice small details in things like texture that our eyes could not show us previously.

Technological Reproduction

Walter Benjamin argued that the aura of the "art object" is diminished by the technology allowing for its reproducibility. I don't necessarily agree with this because if one takes into account that they are looking at a reproduction it is possible to still get a sense of the "art object's" aura. However, you can't argue that an original has a more profound affect than a reproduction. Benjamin also says that the technology has expanded our experience of the "art object" by influencing and enlarging our perception. I agree with this in that with new technology in film and photography we have, in a way, trained our eyes to see differently and maybe more beautifully.

The Reproduction of Art

Cameras have expanded the possibilities of artistic expression while also limiting it in its authenticity and its value. Viewing something on the screen or in a photograph may enhance the beauty or appeal of the subject. One may gain a positive from a carefully taken shot. The photo/video may also improve the appearance of one, but is inconsistent and does not reflect 100%, the true value of the subject. As Walter Benjamin describes that a video or photographic reproduction of a subject diminishes its value and its "aura".  Aura is really the key word. Aura, the quality that emanates through the atmosphere around the subject it comes from. This is what is lost in a reproduction. One might look very nice in a picture, but you could never comprehend the entire person for what they are until you witness them first-hand.

Conwell Hall Dance Performance

I went to the show on friday and found it very unique. Art has always been known to me as a non-transforming object such as a painting, sculpture, etc. So it was a new experience seeing these people dance and maneuver themselves about the room in an expressive work of art. They used chalk and the projector screen to make their performance different. The room was dark which I didn't like, but it seemed to be appropriate with the vague and mysterious theme of the piece. The music was also interesting. There was classical music that brought on a sense of ease and comfort, and then they played an energetic and low-pitched techno type music that seemed to reflect an urgency of the dancers as they scrubbed at the projections on the floor. It was certainly a new experience for me and held my attention throughout. Many people would find this performance very odd as I did at first.

Walter Benjamin Reading

It seems that Walter Benjamin is saying that an "art object" is diminished in an audience's reaction to it when it is mechanically reproduced through photographic means. For example, films are generally for the sake of enjoyment and entertainment and not seen as "art" in general, compared to a painting which is almost always critiqued first, then looked at for its aesthetics. A work of photographic recording is embellished in its value by the mechanisms themselves: they record exactly what is in front of the camera, which allows for interpretation. Though the placement and manipulation of the camera elements is the duty and license of the filmmaker, these formats are at the minimum less abstracted than media such as painting or drawing.

Mixed Body - Jack Martin-

On Friday I attended the Mixed Body performance. First I went to Annenberg Hall where I sat down on a chair that had sensors on it and a camera and a screen in front of me. I was told to read sentenced off the screen and the camera and the sensors in the chair took my information. The whole process only took about a minute. Afterwords I went to Conwell Hall. The theatre upstairs was really neat. It had a huge video screen and it was completely darkened. Then the dancers came out and drew on the floor with their bodies. I was not personally a big fan of the dance portion. It was interesting to see the faces of the people from Annenberg but I personally did not understand what the dancing was about.


Required Reading for Tuesday, Sept. 22: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, by Walter Benjamin. (Translated by J.A. Underwood). Alternatively, you can read this more newly-adopted translation, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, (Translated from Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technicshen Reproduzierbarkeit [1936] Gesammelte Schriften I, vol. 2, p. 431-508 by Zohn and Jephcott)

Blog Questions: In what ways is Walter Benjamin saying that our experience of the "art object" is diminished by the tools of mechanical reproduction (photography and film)? In what ways is he saying that our experience of the art object is expanded by these new tools? Blog your response to these two questions by "commenting" on this post, or on each other's comments.
Posted by Sarah Drury at 9:16 AM

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility - Charly Joung

In what ways is Walter Benjamin saying that our experience of the "art object" is diminished by the tools of mechanical reproduction (photography and film)?

Benjamin feels that the tools of mechanical reproduction has diminished art's aura via the distance that photographs produce between the viewer and the piece of art. He explains that the uniqueness of experiences through art is lost through the repetitive association in photography.

In what ways is he saying that our experience of the art object is expanded by these new tools?

Benjamin admits that photography is an "important visual activity within itself" and that its strong bond with art is only natural. He also explains that photography, although he feels it diminishes an art object's aura, has made the art object more accessible to the masses and allows the art object to have a chance to gain recognition.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Technological Reproducibility"

First off, the interpretation of the article really seemed to help make the concepts a lot more clear to me. Benjamin is saying that with the "new technologies" like photography and film, the art and the viewer are now separated by this medium. He says that even though a photograph isn't forgery or a fake that it somewhat robs the original "art" of it's aura. I don't necessarily agree with this. If anything, pictures can show us a different angle or perspective, that we wouldn't have seen without the use of a camera. That kind of intertwines with what Benjamin says about how the "art object" is expanded by film or still photography. He talks about how in a picture the texture or details aren't seen as if they would without the camera between the art and viewer. He does seem to be less pessimistic when it comes to talking about film. He talks about how it sharpens the viewers "optical and auditory impressions." Overall Walter Benjamin seemed to be quite negative on the use of photography and film in the art realm. However he did seem to have some leeway on it's potential positive aspects.

John Curall-"Mixed Body" Performance Reaction

I had the opportunity to go back and see the Performance of "Mixed Body" on Friday. I was very glad I did. It was very interesting and inspiring. I am very interested in the collaboration of technology and performance artist and this was an excellent example of that. Further, I feel like in making it a participatory experience where viewers can interact with the performers and be right on stage with them it added to the experience and made it that much more engaging. I like the abstract nature of the piece which allowed the viewer to make some of his or her own thoughts about the experience. However, I feel like there were very specific statements the artists wanted to make and they were lost a little in the abstractness. I found the dialogue in the music to be very unclear at times. I also thought the facial recognition video was so abstract it was little hard to understand the message or what the video images were representing. All in all the I found the performance to be powerful and engaging. I hope to see more projects like this in the future from these artists or others. I would like to maybe even get the chance to collaborate on a project like this myself some day. At the very least for cool factor alone this performance gets high marks from me!

John Curall-Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

I found the reading this week to be very interesting. The author seems to be saying that the art work is diminished by this reproduction because as it is reproduced it takes away from the quality and spirit or "aura" of the original by taking away some of its uniqueness. Yet at the same time he seems to be saying that the art work is also expanded by this process in the fact that in reproducing it the art work can reach more people. I think these questions come down to the way in which we have been trained to think in a Completely free market capitalist society where we are more worried about "ownership" than benefits of connecting with and inspiring others. In my opinion, a true artist should be more worried about getting his or her message out to as many people as possible rather than worrying about how "special" their piece of art work is. I think art should be about connecting with people and inspiring thought and discussion.