Rebecca Clamp
Essay 3

With reference to examples of Media practice, discuss in detail the relevance of Walter Benjamin's 'Work of Art' Essay (Benjamin 1936) for contemporary culture.

Walter Benjamin’s ‘Work of Art’ indicates the difference between previous and modern day art; showing that in fact the aura of modern day art is dead. Walter discusses how people’s perception of art is now different; however questions whether there will ever be one universal perception of it. Two main media practices Benjamin focuses on are film and photography compared to old-fashioned paintings. By looking at different forms of media and the differences we see nowadays I will look to justify the point Benjamin is trying to make.

Benjamin did not necessarily see it as a negative aspect that technical images lacked in aura; he believes that through perhaps removing the ‘uniqueness’ within art it takes away any factors of unreality. He says ‘We know that the earliest art works originated in the service of a ritual – first the magical, then the religious kind.’ (Benjamin, 1936) He expresses his views on the start of art and his feeling it was based on mysticism. ‘In other words, the unique value of the “authentic” work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value’ (Benjamin, 1936) insisting that nowadays media practice is based more on politics instead.

One example, which could help to back up Benjamin’s essay ‘Work of Art’, is the idea of YouTube. YouTube is a website with the intention of being able to show recordings, music videos, clips of television shows and so forth. Richard Chalften, who looks at the patterns within culture by studying clips online, argues that you can read the culture patterns and occurring events in society by looking at recently developed clips put on these websites and that by observing such clips it,

raises questions about the postmodern condition in which the YouTube generation lives, a condition defined...