Week3_Reproduction of Aura in a Digital World by Eric Debbold

Of the two articles, I found the first to be the most interesting and, ironically, more fitting to a discussion of the impact of reproduction in the digital era than the second.  The concept of aura, the general quality of originality and the value of presence in the Here and Now had a great impact on my impression of the art of today.
The advent of the recording of music was the first step in the degradation of this quality.  Before the phonograph, if you wanted to hear music, you would have to see the musician, and each time the song would be unique, the performance varying in quality but always authentic.   With the record industry came the ability to listen to the exact same recordings over and over, predictable and while extremely convenient, that much less interesting for the listener.  In the same way children delight in Blues Clues, a TV show that plays the same episode 5 times in a week, so too do consumers want for familiarity with content.  We now turn the page to a new chapter in music consumption, where the context of the performance is further removed.  Consider the iPod, the Shuffle, the Genius Playlist and the popularity of One Hit Wonders.   One might argue that this phenomenon began long ago, with the advent of radio, but radio has also changed with the times: http://www.theimproper.com/Template_Article.aspx?IssueId=10&ArticleId=3028
As stated, isn’t it odd that the last place we would look for new music is on the radio?  At this point, popular radio is a consolidated playlist of songs everyone already has, a substitute for my Top25 most played list on my iPod until I figure out a way to plug it into my car stereo.  When talking of reproduction of art in the digital era, it is impossible to avoid at least touching on the issue of piracy, just ask half of your music in your iTunes library.  In an hour, a high school student with a basic understanding of the Internet can download a song for free, distribute it hundreds of times, and remix it with another *free* song with his *free* audio mixing software, claiming some sort of artistic ownership to the new work.

As predicted in the article “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” the following idea is being taken to the extreme:
It began with the daily press opening to its reader’s space for “letters to the editor.” And today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere or other comments on his work, grievances, documentary reports, or that sort of thing. Thus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character.

Unfortunately, this “every consumer is also a producer” attitude buries quality, and results in this type of situation: Commercial Ignoring the clear snob element to the commercial, that pretty much sums up the direction I feel like music is heading.

by Eric Debbold

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