Week 3: Does it have an “Aura” or not?

I found it very odd reading and absorbing the article “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction” by Douglas Davis. Being such a dated thesis from over ten years ago, it presents a perspective that is completely foreign to me. Being born in 1986, I entered my conscious adolescence right as personal computing and the internet became standard facets of human life. Obviously dating myself as a young individual, I cannot picture an existence without the technology brought by personal computers or the limitless connectivity created by the World Wide Web. One of my earliest distinct memories is signing up for AOL back in version 2.0 with my whole family at our Compaq Presario desktop with a cutting edge Intel Pentium 90 MHz processor. Moving another step further into foreign territory is Davis’s concept of technocratic reproduction. To me, digital imaging and reproduction is just another standard part of our existence, like the telephone or automobile, but to those who lived in a world before these technologies, I see now that it was not so simple an adjustment. Hand-created art could all of a sudden be reproduced digitally and then changed in any way imaginable, losing its “aura of originality.” In my technocratic perspective, a digital reproduction, such as a photo copy or digital scan, is just another means of representing and expressing the same originality. If the reproduction is true to the original’s level of resolution, then there is no difference but the subjective one we place on the viewing’s situation. It’s circumstantial in my view. That is not to say I do not see the value in appreciating an original message through the originally intended medium (i.e. viewing a painting as the original oil on canvas versus as a digitally printed reproduction). Subtleties are expressed best through the chosen medium, and for specific reason. A painter chooses oil on canvas versus watercolor on paper for specific reasons according to his or her purpose. On this level I can agree with reservations to Davis’s presented points.

However when it comes to the next level or “aura degradation,” originally technocratic art, I lose my agreement with this perspective completely. Art is not just that which is created by means already established, such as the common physical ones of sculpture, painting, drawing, handwriting, etc. In the words of Leo Tolstoy art is anything that “infects” an audience and causes change within them. With this definition I see anything created by a human as being exemplary of an artistic endeavor. One great example of technocratic art that I believe has great original ‘aura’ is Liquid Sculpture.

Does Technocratic Art have an Aura?

Capturing the reality of nature by photo-realistic methods can be just as affecting as doing so by symbolic or expressionistic ones. In this art form, high speed flash photography and digital image processing, such as Photoshop, are used to capture beauties found in the natural wonder of water. Sculptures formed only by the forces of physics, formed only for precise instants, are rendered in digital form to be viewed over an extended period of time. It is a form of art that was never possible before technology enabled its concept and execution.

This is just one example as to the things that can happen outside the planes of our imaginations.

coolBy Sohail e. Najafi

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