September 7 Benjamin- Zoraida

Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (15 July 1892 – 26 September 1940) was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist. His work, combining elements of historical materialism, German idealism and Jewish mysticism, has made enduring and influential contributions to aesthetic theory and Western Marxism, and has sometimes been associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. As a literary critic, among his major works are essays on Goethe's novel Elective Affinities; the work of Franz Kafka and Karl Kraus; translation theory; the stories of Nikolai Leskov; the work of Marcel Proust and perhaps most significantly, the poetry of Charles Baudelaire. He also made major translations into German of the Tableaux Parisiens section of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal and parts of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu.

The Work of art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is an article about the repercussions that two different manifestations – the reproduction of works of art and the art of the film– had on art in its traditional form.

Starting with the affirmation that a work of art is always reproducible Walter Benjamin makes a recount of the different techniques of art reproduction since the time of the ancient Greece until the twentieth century.
The evolution of these techniques such as founding and stamping in the ancient Greece, engraving and etching in the Middle Ages followed by lithography and photography, had a enormous impact in the art market and in the public. Reproduction of art works, thanks to these technologies, became faster.

Walter Benjamin points out that works of art are have different values depending on the context they are situated. A sculpture of Venus is an object of veneration for the ancient Greeks whereas in the Middle Ages the same sculpture is viewed as an ominous idol. An original work of art owns a unique element, which the most perfect reproduction of art lacks: its presence in time and space. This uniqueness is related to the history and different events the art of work experienced during its existence, the multiple changes suffered in physical condition over the time and the various changes in its ownership.

Later, this article deals with other expressions of arts like the visual arts and scenic arts. At this point there is a question that I consider worth asking, Is photography as unique and valuable as painting? This seems to be a rather confused dispute of the twentieth century. And what about the artistic performance of a stage actor versus the one of a screen actor? Benjamin Walter affirms that the performance of a stage actor is presented to the audience by the actor, but the screen actor’s performance is by the camera. Therefore, the screen actor lacks the opportunity to adjust to the audience. Benjamin Walter says that the audience is identified in fact with the camera and not with the actor. Do we agree with this opinion?


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