Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Invisible Aspect of Text

Walter Benjamin's 'Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' is, rightly, one of the most important articles in the modern era, particularly for its aesthetic approach to Text. If Text is interpretable through its intentionality, materiality and functionality (more capacious descriptions than the alternative triad--'production, transmission and reception'), the missing element, and often the most significant element, is 'aura'. 'Aura' is notoriously difficult to pin down, but might, variously, be thought of as 'authenticity', 'originality', 'value', 'appeal', 'authority'. For Benjamin, loss of 'aura' emerges from reproduction, though the democratisation of art, for him, had great benefits. The essence of Text, then, is its irremovable intent, material, and function, but always weighted by the variable of 'aura'.

Here, from sixty minutes' hard work, are the two classroom boards with tweetable reductions of Benjamin's fundamental message, completed by the teams of my 'What is (a) Text' Senior Seminar.

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