Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ownership of Aura

With our group circle on Friday, we kept throwing the term "aura" around rather loosely. The term we were using did not seem to hold as much meaning as the definition that was given to us on the backgrounder. When a picture is reproduced, we ultimately decided that the original was needed as a reference for the copy to have any meaning (aura) whatsoever. Not to beat a dead horse here, but I feel as if I didn't quite understand how that could be possible. When our group decided this, does it mean that both copies need to be present when we interpret them, or do we, as readers, need to have common knowledge of the original before reviewing the copy of the original?

I'm going to assume we're talking about the latter, which leads me to think of irony. Now, I'm not thinking of irony as if there is a "we" and a "them," but rather in the sense that there must be common knowledge of a concept, otherwise misunderstanding will occur. Can aura work in this same way, or does aura have a different meaning for each person? I guess the ownership of aura really has me confused. Is the author the only one who can see the true aura of an original, or does the author "die" in this case, and leave the aura up to interpretation?


  1. Kaitlyn,
    I stand by your side in the army of the confused. However, I viewed aura as a natural quality, similar to mountain or branch image Benjamin offered. However, the waning existence of THE aura is diminished by physical distance, which is why I think the aura of so-said thing is a combination of historical traditions, social constructions of importance and physical distances. Reproduction is derived from the original. Once the original becomes generic, the aura is lost on the reproduction. Eventually the generic will cease to be because of lack of specificity, all the while the original still holds aura, it is just temporarily lost sight of during the onslaught of replication and consumption. Aura is rooted in history, a sentimental quality.

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  3. Needless to say, I am also confused by this overarching thought of ‘aura’ and the meaning it holds in relation to art. After reading “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” I found that Benjamin’s explanation of it being, “the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be” as well as Prof. Graban’s summary of aura of it being “the unique quality traditionally attributed to an artwork that gives a special status” to be most helpful (Benjamin 1236). The way I see it, and this may be incorrect to state, is that aura is essentially the legacy of the original piece. By this, I mean that representations of the original exist so that more people can be exposed to a certain work regardless of means or distance. Therefore, as you mention Ariel, once it becomes ‘generic,’ and is known to many, people understand that it is a replication but also are aware of the reason why it was reproduced in relation to the importance it once held in history.


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