Benjamin a detachment from the viewer to the

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Benjamin first takes note of the aura relating to photography while examining the work of David Octavius Hill, an example of his work can be seen in Fig.2. Benjamin believed that the high aesthetic value of this image came from the commitment shown by the photographers to this new emerging medium, he also notes that the human subjects used for Hills portraiture photography during the 1800’s were what truly created the value of the image. “There was an aura about them, an atmospheric medium, that lent fullness and security to their gaze even as it penetrated that medium. And once again the technical equivalent is obvious; it consists in the absolute continuum from brightest light to darkest shadow…” -Benjamin, W. (1931). A little History of Photography. Pg.508-530.In Benjamins eyes the aura can only be given by the true original work of art created by the medium, the aura gives the viewer the sense of the object creation making a detachment from the viewer to the object causing a purely aesthetic experience, this detachment is what elicts this response from the audience.This sense can be seen when original works of art go for million while any person can still purchase a reproduction for a fraction of the price. Photography challenges this concept though because of the mediums heavy involvement in replication, it defies the idea of the aura relating to art Early photography in Benjamins eyes gave this same feeling, the same aura that other mediums such as paintings elicited from its viewers. The limitation of early photography made the original image unique causing the sensation of the aura to the viewer but this did not last as replication became quickly tied into the core of photography because of the practise of carte de visite which was patented in Paris by photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri in 1854. Carte de visite was a small photograph containing a portrait which was a size of a visiting card as seen in Fig.2, Its use was for sharing portraits among friends and visitors. These cards would be collected and put into albums. The immense popularity of this practise caused mass replication of the original source. This practise caused by photography heavily challenges the concept of the aura.

Categories: Paintings


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