Comparing Walter Benjamin and Susan Sontag

Essay by ipsofactoUniversity, Master'sA-, May 2004

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Walter Benjamin and Susan Sontag argues the ways and the kinds of the new technologies and new media like photography and cinema. They are not agreed in all discussion points. Like the german writer and essayist, Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) mentioned in his essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" photography and cinema formed a new vision and a new kind of art. On the other side Susan Sontag one of America's important writers who was born in 1933 and living in New York today, explains in her book "On Photography" this new kind of art: photography's bad usage , consequences and the dark sides of it.

Today, visuality and reproduction is one of the main characteristic of the two art form photography and film. According to Benjamin "Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.

This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence" (Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. P,2). Here Benjamin talks about the concept of aura as a presence of the work of art. Also there is an another description of this concept that Benjamin explains in his essay: "We define the aura of the latter as the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be. If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch" (Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. P,3).