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New Technology And Art World Essay

1524 words - 7 pages

From African nkisi nkondi fetish statues to Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes, today’s art world exhibit many strange things, which leads perplex viewers to question – is this really art? In the question she poses as the title of her book, But is it art?, Cynthia Freeland proposes an initiative to speak directly to everyday audience and serious art critics and students bewildered by various artworks in museums, galleries, and anywhere else in the community. In the course of seven chapters, Freeland introduces and examines several primary theories in the art world: ritual theory, theories of taste and beauty, imitation theory, expression and cognitive theories, and theories that emphasize global ...view middle of the document...

According to the author, the media and the uprising of technological advancements has made art much less relevant which takes away from the uniqueness of the original artwork. Instead of promoting, the digital dissemination of art restrains an intellectual communal connection across the global village. Freeland compels the readers to ponder that if we really know how famous pieces of art works look like or do claim to know due to excessive technical reproduction.
To support her argument, the author sites German Jewish and Marxist philosopher, Walter Benjamin. He portrays the loss of the special halo or aura around great works, due to the age of mechanical reproduction. By consuming art in a format that it was not originally intended to be viewed, like a CD-ROM for music or a photograph of a painting, he proposes the older artworks lose some key “aura” possessed due to the fact that they had a religious and ceremonial context. However, Freeland views the loss of aura as a negative effect because it diminishes the uniqueness of the original work and that seeing reproduced copies cannot replace seeing the original. Even though new technologies could easily make copies of the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s David and turn the masterpieces into cheap commodities, she argues no other feelings amount to that of which viewing the original masterpiece. Freeland claims “that the aura of major art works from the past has not really disappeared, despite ever more vivid technologies of reproduction” (Freeland 185). She uses the example of people who still visit the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and experience it with feelings of reverence and respect, feelings that are not captured when viewing the painting via digital copies.
Regarding technical reproductivity of art as a very promising way to enable people to achieve unique perception, Benjamin believes “that mass reproduction contributed to human emancipation by promoting new modes of critical perception” (Freeland 179). He claims that the age of photography would enable the masses to achieve a pro-democratic critical distance from any aura and potentially broaden human perceptual power. However, Freeland refutes Benjamin’s claims by citing films such as Full Metal Jacket and Dr. Strangelove whose political significance is ambiguous and hard to interpret by the general audience. She argues these modern era technologies promise absence of mind rather than critical consciousness and cause the original work to become less relevant in the audience’s mind.
Furthermore discussing the negative impacts of recent technologies on the art, Freeland explains the claims of a Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan. Shaping human consciousness in profound ways, McLuhan believes that “new media offer an aid or ‘prosthesis’ that changes our senses and even our brains to promote non-linear, ‘mosaic’ thinking” (Freeland 189). According to McLuhan, the new media restore connectedness and a new international community...

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