Some reinterpreted theses of Walter Benjamin

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Some reinterpreted theses of Walter Benjamin

In der Tat ist der heimkehrende Amateur mit seiner Unzahl künstlerischer Originalaufnahmen nicht erfreulicher als ein Jäger, der vom Anstand mit Massen von Wild zurückkommt, die nur für den Händler verwertbar sind. Und wirklich scheint der Tag vor der Tür zu stehen, da es mehr illustrierte Blätter als Wild– und Geflügelhandlungen geben wird. Soviel vom ‘Knipsen’.
(W. Benjamin, Kleine Geschichte der Photographie)

Die Photographen jedoch sahen in der Zeit nach 1880 ihre Aufgabe vielmehr darin, die Aura, die von Hause aus mit der Verdrängung des Dunkels durch lichtstärkere Objektive aus dem Bilde… verdrängt wurde,.vorzutäuschen.1F

Und doch ist, was über die Photographie entscheidet, immer wieder das Verhältnis des Photographen zu seiner Technik. (S. 377)

The exhibition and the discussion where the artists took part showed that this attitude is not essential for their artistic approach and practice. This was even more clearly emphasized in an argument (by some of the participants at the debate – for example, Elizabeta Avramovska) which was obviously motivated by the need of the artist to reject the objection of the photographer that stood for Benjamin’s thesis.

What determines the employment of photography by the artist is permanently set within a much wider relationship between art and technique.

Wenn eins die heutigen Beziehungen zwischen Kunst und Photographie kennzeichnet, so ist es die unausgetragene Spannung, welche durch die Photographie der Kunstwerke zwischen den beiden eintrat. (S. 382)

If there is anything that marks the relations between art and photography today it is not tension. The basic discord between the photographer and the artist in Macedonia (a conclusion derived from the exhibition and the discussion) lies in the fact that the artist neither lives with nor feels the need to elaborate or develop this tension – nor does he admits its existence in case the critic “notices” it. It seems that the photographer, that is, the exponent of photography-as-art is the one that imposes that tension, overemphasizing the question of the technique in the photography (meaning, it is a craft) and defending the artistic in the photography, without confronting the issue of how these two elements – the craft and the art – are to be drawn into a new context.

Viele von denen, die als Photographen das heutige Gesicht dieser Technik bestimmen, sind von der Malerei ausgegangen. Sie haben ihr den Rücken gekehrt nach Versuchen, deren Ausdrucksmittel in einen lebendigen, eindeutigen Zusammenhang mit dem heutigen Leben zu rücken. (S. 382)

Photography is a new word in the language of art. The artists employ photography, they do not give themselves to it, they do not turn their backs on painting. Thus, the provocative question posed by Nebojsa Vilic: “why the turn from painting to the use of the photographic camera?” was answered by Elizabeta Avramovska and Sonja Abadzieva who emphasized the manipulation of another medium). This has to do not with seting aside of an obsolete expression but with the enrichment of the language. The artist does not have to turn his back on painting in order to “bring his means of expression into an unambiguous relation with the present life”.

Demungeachtet ist es dieser fetischistische, von Grund auf antitechnische Begriff von Kunst, mit dem die Theoretiker der Photographie fast hundert Jahre lang die Auseinandersetzung suchten, natürlich ohne zum geringsten Ergebnis zu kommen. Denn sie unternahmen nichts anderes, als den Photographen vor eben jenem Richterstuhl zu beglaubigen, den er umwarf. (S. 369)

The discussion that was brought about by the photographers presented an opportunity to extrapolate from Benjamin’s thesis on the auratic in photography. Whereas Benjamin states that the aura in the photography vanishes, the supporters of the photography-as-art think that this vanishing is due to the way in which such photography plays with the concept of the aura.

The attitudes of the Macedonian artists are clear: there is no monopoly on the technique; the question of the aura is irrelevant; poiesis… and not tecnhe is to be emphasized. However, some theoreticians (Vilic) found the relation between such emphasizing of and referring to the irrelevance of the aura contradictory. Yet, the artist does not seem to mind.

For him, to employ, to manipulate with the photographic medium is but a manipulation of an existential fact. The photographic camera simply mediates the artistic transformation of Heidegger’s Vorhandenheit into Zuhandenheit.

Even photography as a document (punctum, as Dzeparovski points out, referring to Barthes) of a past experience could be used to express a present experience, which is, again, an existential fact or artistic manipulation of that fact – the understanding of this present experience is greater when confronted with that past one.

Und doch ist die Wirkung der photographischen Reproduktion von Kunstwerken für die Funktion der Kunst von sehr viel grцЯerer Wichtigkeit als die mehr oder minder künstlerische Gestaltung einer Photographie, der das Erlebnis zur ‘Kamerabeute’ wird. (S. 381)

The new Macedonian photography moderates this assertion, even renders it inessential. The artist or the critic of today would not care for such a “measuring” of the influences. One should only say that the influence of the photographic reproduction in art today is simply obvious or present.

What the artist of the new Macedonian photography is actually doing today is, in fact, clicking.

Television and the computer, and especially the Internet, gave clicking a new dimension. Before they were invented the clicking of the photographic camera was an act that allowed the experience to become “prey of the camera”. What we do now by clicking the remote control of the television or clicking the mouse on the computer is in fact browse. And, in this sense, the application of the photographic camera by an artist is determined by these new meanings of the clicking. The camera becomes a browser. The artist casts a “glance” at a thing rather than “captures” it.

An illustration: McLuhan derived the language of television (in its very beginings) from the language of the “MAD” magazine. The language of the “MAD” today is being derived from television (each issue includes a satire on a TV-sequel or a film).

As clicking the remote control and clicking the mouse can be derived from clicking the photographic camera, so, one can see, the new Macedonian photography can be derived from clicking the mouse with which we browse, search, surf on the WWW.

Um neunzenhudert hatte die technische Reproduktion einen Standard erreicht, auf dem sie nicht nur die Gesamtheit der überkommenen Kunstwerke zu ihrem Objekt zu machen und deren Wirkung den tiefsten Veränderungen zu unterwerfen begann, sondern sich einen eigenen Platz unter den künstlerischen Verfahrungsweisen eroberte.2F

In less than hundred years this technical browsability has already reached a standard suffcient to capture a place of its own among artistic procedures (processes).
In the age of plurality of subjects and incomplete objects and of plurality of different views of the world, for some theorists even of different worlds, that is, in the age of fragmented thought and mosaic culture, the work of art has entered the age of technical browsability.

Was im Zeitalter der technischen Reproduzierbarkeit des Kunstwerks verkümmert, das ist seine Aura.3F

That which withers in the age of technical browsability is the question of the aura.

#b

1. W. Benjamin, Kleine Geschichte der Photographie, Gesammelte Schriften Band II-1, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1974, S. 377.
2. Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among artistic processes (W. Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit, Gesammelte Schriften Band 1-2, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1974, S. 475).
3. That which withers in the age of technical reproduction is the aura of the work of art (ibid., S. 477).

2018-08-21T17:23:47+00:00 February 1st, 2001|Categories: Literature, Reviews, Blesok no. 19|0 Comments