FROM THE ALBUM:

THE DISSEMINATION OF THE ANTI-AURA IN CONTEMPORARY ART

In “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction” Benjamin states that all genuine art possesses an aura, “the presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authentic- ity”1 and “the uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from it being imbedded in the fabric of tradition”2. Benjamin also succeeded in formulating a breakdown of the aura by saying “the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition”3 — the reproduced piece of art lacks its unique moment in time and therefore it lacks it ́s “point of presence — the presence of the object — that gives it its aura”4. Even though a work of art is re- producible the “quality of its presence is always depreciated”5 when copied, processed and me- chanically reproduced. There, the employment and work of the anti-aura takes its place. To touch on what a notion of an anti-aura could be, the work of Benjamin, Adorno and Hegel should stand as the principal source of information.

What Benjamin never introduced was in addition to the aura and the breakdown of it thus creating the notion of an anti-aura. Adorno, also a critic of the breakdown of art in the culture industry described it, if only partly; “by craftily sanctioning the demand for rubbish it inaugu- rates total harmony”6 and later when he quotes Nietzsche “System of non-culture, to which one might even concede a certain “unity of style” if it really made any sense to speak of stylized barbarity”7. The anti-aura, the synthetic template of spiritless repetition of a perverted aura is the core of making up the former pushing it through to the masses so “confined by capitalist production, body and soul, that they fall helpless victim to what is offered them”8. It is what takes the place of a destroyed, perverted aura, wearing its blood stained garments of its sen- tient predecessor reaching out to an audience equipped solely with pre-constructed eyes recep- tive to the conformity offered by its master in the shape of “artful” fodder.

“Aura implies authenticity but there is no authenticity without its destruction in mechanical reproducibility”9. Anti-aura is interchangeable with itself and it does not discriminate its posi- tion with its predecessor its simply acts as a soul, possessing susceptible bodies of the same material all composed and manufactured by the cultural industry. It takes the position, shame- lessly, of the previous heiress, consistent and maintaining the same formula, to pick up the torch made of gold and greed. The introduction of a medium as accessible as the internet is, transcending borders, distance and time has made it possible for the authentic aura to once again show its uniqueness and introduce itself before the masses. It strips the culture industry of its most valuable weapon, its monopoly and copyright prison over channels on which the culture is relayed. The aura has found its path, its freedom to once again show its prowess on the stage.

Since there are no interactions between a digital piece of media and the audience the question that must be asked is if it will be able to pertain its uniqueness in moment and presence or just suffer decomposition of it owing to the “desire of the contemporary masses to bring things

“closer”..just as ardent as their bent toward overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by ac- cepting its reproduction” 10. If the aura is attainable only through the interaction between the live music which is born through the spirit of the artist that wields it what could then act be- tween a digital media and its audience? With this it makes room for an anti-aura born out of

“criterion of authenticity (which) is lost to the artistic production and therefore functions as a reversed function of art”11. Through mass consumption derived from its position in time by mechanical reproduction by the free nature of a susceptible audience the disguised anti-aura finds it only posses a circumvented presence of the radio generation a tweaked existence owing to the guile of the puppeteers of a culture industry.

What separates the aura, the destruction of it and the anti-aura is the presence in time of all, and the loss and perversion of spirit. Should “the creation of art in which the true character of freedom is given sensuous expression”12 hold true the anti-aura, again, could take a place as an illusion in which the oasis of freedom is given expression by intricate remnants of previous auras. This would mean that a society accepts the synthetic genetics on which hits are built on

to possess a reward revealed when “the trained ear has heard the first notes of the hit song, it can guess what is coming and feel flattered when it does come”13. This underlines the superior- ity of a force successful in the fact that its attraction survives on the nature of non change, keeping a conformity where sameness is rewarded and by the appreciation of the dull masses, hailed for its lack of sensuality and change. Group conformity lies as the fundamental base, the lifeforce, nourishing a perverted version of an aura breeding on the quantity of a mislead audi- ence spreading it much like a virus to its vicinity. The more that accepts its kismet the larger the spread and the greater distraught is the art malnourished by conformist consumers.

Todays hit music industry embodies the progress and success of the anti-aura of which is de- pendent on the former to make its continuing survival. Songs that abuse the same template of pervious rulers, force fed to a public to dull to care. Since the inferior work has always relied on its similarity with others, the proven formula of financial gain stands unopposed. Todays music industry, although changing due to technical advances, have created a culture in which songs are appreciated by its selling power and profit generating ability instead of being appreciated for its richness. In this society the connoisseur could be despised for their pretentious claims thus bringing forth a mentality among the masses where the anti-aura takes precedent and where “result is a constant reproduction of the same thing”14. For where in a society where bling rules “the entertainments manufacturers know that their products will be consumed with alertness even when the customer is distraught, for each of them is a model of the huge eco- nomic machinery which has always sustained the masses, whether at work or at leisure — which is akin to work”15. Sales numbers do not describe how good a song is or how talented an artist is, its only duty is to act as a tool to which the masses can take comfort in not having to make their decision of what music to buy their responsibility. But it succeeds, nonetheless in convey- ing this message. This is the epitome example of the filter through which the masses are proc- essed and controlled, the victory of the culture industry. Giving them this (sale stats) tool awards them absolute power to say that something so appreciated surely must be authentic.

In the contemporary time the culture industry and its anti-aura imbued filter sees, for the first time in long a need to conform itself to the enormous flow of information of the internet and the disintegration of radio dependance as a channel for new music. For the first time the cul- ture industry itself sees no other option but to go through the change it so long tried to avoid.

In conclusion, a synthetic twin entity to aura, manufactured in the minds of the culture indus- try bred for the purpose of holding the business model at a status quo but giving the illusion of change, that is the man made aura of which holds no place in the history of art. Thus, the con- formity of a music industry has succeeded in creating itself a force that is non-dependent of change, a stage costume that is undemanding of renewal for each performance. A force, force- fed to a dull mass which hold the passive characteristic in one hand and the total power of ref- ormation in the other at the same time knowingly unarmed. So does the anti-aura flourish, through mass deception and mass psychosis hidden in the stitches of conformity offering itself just so much to not give away for the original amateur and the connoisseur who is placed in the shadows wearing the pariah for being too different, despised for their pretentious claims. The filter is the ingenious work of a culture industry benefitting from an assassination of the aura replacing it with a controllable anti-aura posing for us in fashionable sheep clothes.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

http://www.wbenjamin.org/aura.html

http://www.egs.edu/resources/benjamin.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Benjamin

http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/elljwp/aura.htm

http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm

http://t05.cgpublisher.com/proposals/51/index_html

http://www.academon.com/lib/paper/4587.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_structure

Song structure used for creating the essay structure

http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/9/view/3609/venice-architecture-biennale-2008-previe w-zaha-hadid-aura.html
Main picture (deleted)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoNPqtznoXk

KoRn Video

http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/authenticity.htm

First Y ear S eminar II T erm paper 7

Johan Kristensson

- Goodman quote

1 Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of M echanical R eproduction (New York: Schokea, 1968), 220

2 Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of M echanical R eproduction, 223 3 Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of M echanical R eproduction,221

4 John W P Philips, “On Walter Benjamin” , March 30, 2009, 6, http://courses.nus.edo.sg/course/elljwp/aura.htm

5 Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of M echanical R eproduction,221

6 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, ed.Andy Blunden (Frankfurt school, February 2005), 8, http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm

7 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, 5 8 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, 8 9 Philips, “On Walter Benjamin”, 6
10 Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of M echanical R eproduction, 223

11 Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of M echanical R eproduction, 224
12 G W F Hegel, “Aesthetics”, (Warwick University: January 20, 2009), 3,

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hegel-aesthetics/

13 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, 4 14 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, 8 15 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,

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