Technology & Art: Is photography art or is it a mechanical reproduction?
This week we take up a consideration of the aesthetic value of photography. While Walter Benjamin argues that art is aesthetically devalued when it is mechanically reproduced, as is the case in photography, Ted Cohen challenges this assumption by asserting that it takes a real artist to compose a great photography.
Here are some web sites that will enhance your understanding of this week's reading:
- ErraticImpact's Existentialism resource page: This page provides a wide range of links and resources for those interested in existentialist philosophy.
- The Cry: Existentialism: a cry towards the absurd. philosophy, art and poetry, related to this movement, discussion board, chat, free email. Site has sections on various existentialists.
- The Ereignis page offers a complete one stop resource for all of your Heidegger needs.
- ErraticImpact's Heidegger resource page: This page provides a wide range of Heidegger links and resources. Especially interesting are the links with essays about the connection between Heidegger's philosophy and environmental ethics.
- The Illuminations page on Herbert Marcuse provides essays by Douglas Kellner, noted Marcuse scholar, and interesting biographical information.
- The Marcuse family keeps a comprehensive web site with links to many of Marcuse's famous essays.
- Herbert Marcuse: Aggressiveness in Advanced Industrial Society (1967) - a personal favorite!
- The Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate: This site is a great starting point for your exploration of Benjamin's writings.
- From the above organization, here are links to Benjamin's writings that are posted online.
- Another fine essay on the connection between our aesthetic sensibilities and the culturally constructed concept of history: On the Concept of History.
Art and Photography:
- Here is About.com's Photography and Photographic Art page. As always they provide a great starting point for your explorations.
- digitalari.com: This site is at the cutting edge of digital art and photography. It's a "must see" for those who argue that photography is not art.
- About.com's guide to Walker Evans: I love this site and especially encourage you to check out Scenes from the Great Depression.
- Art and Photography: this short essay debates the very question we are considering this week: Is photography art?
Art and Technology:
- What would Walter Benjamin think about Internet2 - a realtime high-bandwidth version of the present Internet? See the applications for studies in the arts and humanities here.
- Design as authorship - an enlivening discussion concerning the cultural role that designers play in disseminating values from etoy.com, an awesome hacktivist site
The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. The subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.
Objective: to determine if photography has aesthetic and artistic merit. Can photography claim to be a field of artistic endeavor or must we capitulate to Benjamin's point of view and reject "mechanical" modes of artistic reproduction"?
Benjamin Guide Questions:
- How did lithography and photography change the nature of artistic reproduction?
- What is the "prerequisite to the concept of authenticity"?
- What is Benjamin's claim concerning the "quality of presence" in a mechanically reproduced work of art?
- What happens to a work of art that is mechanically reproduced?
- What does film do to cultural heritage?
- What is the modern attitude towards digital and mechanical forms of art according to Benjamin?
- Describe the connection between aura and ritual? What is the "ritual" function of art?
- How does the idea of a print contribute to an idea of mechanical art? What is the function of a print?
- If Benjamin's view is adopted and only the fine arts qualify as authentic, how can we appreciate and understand the commercial arts?
- Are photographs merely pictures of 'x'?
- What is the relation between a photograph and its subject?)
- What is the role of the photographer in bringing the subject into play in a particular photograph?
- Why do we have faith in photographs?
- Are cool photographic techniques more or less artistic than their mundane counterparts? If you argue that technique creates art, explain why.
- What is the relationship between the photograph and the world?
- Why does Cohen think that Benjamin misses the point in his discussion of photography? What does Benjamin miss?
- How does the photographer transform a mundane subject into art? Use Cohen's discussion to explain the process.
- How can photography free itself from the label "mechanical representation"?
- What is special about photography?
Smartboard Notes from Weeks 3 Lecture: