"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is a 1936 essay by German cultural critic Walter Benjamin which has been influential in the field of cultural studies.
 
His use of the word "aura" in connection with art is a key concept. From Wikipedia:
 
"Walter Benjamin used the word "aura" to refer to the sense of awe and reverence one presumably experienced in the presence of unique works of art. According to Benjamin, this aura inheres not in the object itself but rather in external attributes such as its known line of ownership, its restricted exhibition, its publicized authenticity, or its cultural value. Aura is thus indicative of art's traditional association with primitive, feudal, or bourgeois structures of power and its further association with magic and (religious or secular) ritual. With the advent of art's mechanical reproducibility, and the development of forms of art (such as film) in which there is no actual original, the experience of art could be freed from place and ritual and instead brought under the gaze and control of a mass audience, leading to a shattering of the aura. "For the first time in world history," Benjamin wrote, "mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual."
 
The complete text of Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is here:
 
http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm
 
Diana
 
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