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Related: authenticity - The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin's famous essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" defines "aura" as the unique existence of a work of art -- its originality and authenticity. Reproduction withers the aura, detaching the object from the domain of tradition and "liquidating the traditional value of the cultural heritage." Photography, which renders absurd the notion of the "authentic" print, replaces the ritual roots of authentic traditional art with a basis in politics. Discussions of contemporary appropriation, especially that of Sherri Levine, Richard Prince, Sarah Charlesworth and others, often make explicit reference to the idea. -- Robert Belton


Figuratively, an aura refers to the character of concepts/issues/phenomena surrounding a particular topic. eg: "The discussion had an aura of casualness".

The Marxist cultural critic Walter Benjamin also used the term "aura" to refer to the feeling of awe created by unique or remarkable objects such as works of art or relics of the past. According to Benjamin older cultures can generate auras around particular objects of veneration, while capitalist culture has the opposite effect, causing the decay of the aura due to the proliferation of mass-production and reproduction technologies. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aura#Figurative_Meaning [Jun 2005]

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