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Essay: How perception has changed over time – Walter Benjamin

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  • Subject area(s): Psychology essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: January 13, 2020*
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  • Words: 891 (approx)
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  • How perception has changed over time - Walter Benjamin
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“The Work of Art in the age of Technological Reproducibility”, Walter Benjamin can be considered a perfect representation of what the theme of the course relates to-communication technology. In this essay, Walter Benjamin discusses how perception of things have changed over time creating an awakening to the new arrival of film and photography of the twentieth century. The way we visualize and feel the work of arts has a complete different interpretation to someone thirty years ago. A clear example can be seen in class, how students analyze written pieces differently from their professors. In this response paper, I will discuss how Walter has a valid point in relation to how perception has changed over time due to the new technological innovations, which have influenced people in the way they think and relate to something in particular. Benjamin discusses how photographs are not authentic but I can argue how image, from being original to edited, can be considered authentic on its way.
The author uses a Marxist terminology and point of view to influence the way the essay is written. These basic interpretations have changed because of the social changes and the struggle of power that politicians are going through now a day. These social changes can lead up to technology, a revolutionary method of expression and communication used within members of society. One clear historical example is how the Nazis implemented their fascist ideology to express their own needs and incentivize people to get involved with them through the use of art. Examples of these works of art can be how some advertisement where both the Jewish religion and its members are portrayed as the enemies, making them look dangerous and create a single purpose- mortality. Benjamin implements in his essay a clear statement of how methods of communication influence greatly on human behavior. In movies, actors represent someone else rather than themselves which creates a fake expectation of what people should believe on. In this new century, Benjamin will argue how people based their authentic personality on others due to how successful they seem to be. This is created by how morals and principles are transmitted through a screen rather than learning from a human being
Benjamin also, to make a clearer point of view, uses the concept of \”aura\” as a self-explanation of what mechanical representation signifies to him (pg.255). The term “aura” basically encompasses the concept of the atmosphere of beauty and power that surrounds societies and its members. The “aura” in this case can be used to represent the word “authenticity” because there’s no method of reproduction that can be used to authentic existence of the concept of atmosphere. This aura can represent an authentic work of art because no reproduction has ever been made. He argues how an image of the aura will not be the same as the painting because the photograph can be converted in multiple images or edited while the painting can remain original because it only exists in one authentic form. The problem here is that nowadays, even though we can still argue paintings are authentic, photographs influence people greatly because it captures spontaneous memories that can be shared with others. It can still be called authentic because there only exists one single moment printed in multiple copies. In photographs, authenticity can also be found by how the image was taken, with whom or what emotions drive from viewers when seeing it. The images are “aura” for me because from the person who took it all the way to the person who edits it makes it authentic because of what they decide to portray in the image. Each emotion and assessment implemented on the decision process of the image makes its value and representation authentic for me. One personal experience is how I edit my graphic design pictures while creating my projects. My purpose of editing and cropping are unique because the message I want to portray is unique. All the interpretations made afterwards can also be considered unique.
Also, Benjamin makes it clear how this new age of mechanical reproduction has created the perspective of \”contemplation\” of a screen that can be totally unique and different (pg. 262). Before, people stood in front of a painting for hours and analyzed every color or style but nowadays these contemplations have changed. He mentions how Greeks contemplated the ancient statue of Venus by just standing in front of it, but now contemplation can even occur through a picture (pg. 256). Also, in this new age, audience can contemplate a film for hours evaluating from how they are dressed to the reasons why they say something. It seems as if the film consumes people into a world where an illusion is created and can’t be escaped. This constant \”moving images\” as he calls makes audience go through certain emotions and ideas that are not what they believe in but are highly influence by them (pg.266). I believe that every person has his/her own decision to interpret things. This is what makes the world unique when different opinions are freely discussed leading to being productive and exploratory. For Benjamin the new form of art and communication today might not be considered authentic, but as technology develops and people change, these constant images and photographs can be considered the new aura.

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