Here's a second short blog post I thought of while reading Walter Benjamin. I wanted to share this quick idea I found on ScienceBlogs.com. In a 2010 post on the site, an author tackled the idea of digital reproduction. My first thought as an answer to the question, "Does digital reproduction restore the aura?" was an easy yes due to the ability of technologies today to be able to reproduce and replicate in image and keep its properties intact.
However, look at the below videos. The first shows a statement typed and saved as a JPEG. It was then saved 100 times at a lower format.
The second video shows a man sitting down. A camera films him, then projects that image onto a wall, which is then re-filmed, re-projected and so-on.
These video and technology experiments showed me something. "Yes" is not the easy answer. However, the bigger takeaway is that the decay of the aura by digital reproduction is not necesary as literal in my mind as Benjamin's argument for mechanical reproduction. It is metaphorical.
Take popular images in art such as the Mona Lisa , American Gothic and Rosie the Riveter. These images were intended as works of art and they, along with many others, had at least some aura to them (depending on when they were produced). Over time, their replication and dissemination online has made them more than what they were. If I were more creative, I may coin a new term for what has been done to them, similar to "aura. Something that shows the weight they carry as images that have been put in our face so often in popular culture and online.
Just some thoughts.