ince it offers, precisely because of the thoroughgoing permeation of reality with mechanical equipment, an aspect of reality which is free of all equipment. And that is what one is entitled to ask from a work of art. . because of the thoroughgoing permeation of reality with mechanical equipment . for contemporary man the representation of reality by the film is incomparably more significant than that of the painter . that of the cameraman consists of multiple fragments which are assembled under a new law . That of the painter is a total one . difference between the pictures they obtain . the cameraman penetrates deeply into its web. . The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality . Magician and surgeon compare to painter and cameraman. . it is through the operation that he penetrates into him. . in contrast to the magician - who is still hidden in the medical practitioner – the surgeon at the decisive moment abstains from facing the patient man to man; . increases it but little by the caution with which his hand moves among the organs. . he greatly diminishes the distance between himself and the patient by penetrating into the patient’s body . The surgeon does exactly the reverse . he greatly increases it by virtue of his authority. . The magician maintains the natural distance between the patient and himself; . the surgeon cuts into the patient’s body . The magician heals a sick person by the laying on of hands; . The surgeon represents the polar opposite of the magician. . To answer this we take recourse to an analogy with a surgical operation . How does the cameraman compare with the painter . the shooting by the specially adjusted camera and the mounting of the shot together with other similar ones. The equipment-free aspect of reality here has become the height of artifice; the sight of immediate reality has become an orchid in the land of te . That is to say, in the studio the mechanical equipment has penetrated so deeply into reality that its pure aspect freed from the foreign substance of equipment is the result of a special procedure . Its illusionary nature is that of the second degree, the result of cutting. . In the theater one is well aware of the place from which the play cannot immediately be detected as illusionary. . The shooting of a film, especially of a sound film, affords a spectacle unimaginable anywhere at any time before this. . trying hard to spur the interest of the masses through illusion-promoting spectacles and dubious speculations. . Western Europe the capitalistic exploitation of the film denies consideration to modern man’s legitimate claim to being reproduced. . In cinematic practice, particularly in Russia, this change-over has partially become established reality. Some of the players whom we meet in Russian films are not actors in our sense but people who portray themselves and primarily in their own work proce . transitions that in literature took centuries have come about in a decade . All this can easily be applied to the film . Literary license is now founded on polytechnic rather than specialized training and thus becomes common property. . newspaper publishers arrange races for their delivery boys. These arouse great interest among the participants, for the victor has an opportunity to rise from delivery boy to professional racer. Similarly, the newsreel offers everyone the opportunity to r . It is inherent in the technique of the film as well as that of sports that everybody who witnesses its accomplishments is somewhat of an expert. This is obvious to anyone listening to a group of newspaper boys leaning on their bicycles and discussing the . The cult of the movie star, fostered by the money of the film industry, preserves not the unique aura of the person but the “spell of the personality,” the phony spell of a commodity. So long as the movie-makers’ capital sets the fashion, as a rule . The film responds to the shriveling of the aura with an artificial build-up of the “personality” outside the studio . uild- . Never for a moment does the screen actor cease to be conscious of this fact . where is it transported? Before the public . The feeling of strangeness that overcomes the actor before the camera, as Pirandello describes it, is basically of the same kind as the estrangement felt before one’s own image in the mirror. But now the reflected image has become separable, transportab . Let us assume that an actor is supposed to be startled by a knock at the door. If his reaction is not satisfactory, the director can resort to an expedient: when the actor happens to be at the studio again he has a shot fired behind him without his being . Thus a jump from the window can be shot in the studio as a jump from a scaffold, and the ensuing flight, if need be, can be shot weeks later when outdoor scenes are taken. . it is composed of many separate performances. . The film actor very often is denied this opportunity. His creation is by no means all of a piece; . The stage actor identifies himself with the character of his role. . “the latest trend ... in treating the actor as a stage prop chosen for its characteristics and... inserted at the proper place.” . “the greatest effects are almost always obtained by ‘acting’ as little as possible ... ” . like the film, founded in, mechanical reproduction . that is completely subject to . stage play to a work of art . theater. . atist such as Pirandello who, in characterizing the film, inadvertently touches on the very crisis in which we see the . characterizing the film, inadvertent . ly touches on the very crisis in whic . It is not surprising that it should be a dram . physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffect . th ours. But the amazing gr

Walter Benjamin

t . The aura which, on the stage, emanates from Macbeth, cannot be separated for the spectators from that of the actor. . or the first time – and this is the effect of the film – man has to operate with his whole living person, yet forgoing its aura. For aura is tied to his presence; there can be no replica of it . The projector will play with his shadow before the public, and he himself must be content to play before the camera. . This is not the approach to which cult values may be exposed. . The audience’s identification with the actor is really an identification with the camera. Consequently the audience takes the position of the camera . This permits the audience to take the position of a critic, without experiencing any personal contact with the actor. . Also, the film actor lacks the opportunity of the stage actor to adjust to the audience during his performance, since he does not present his performance to the audience in person. . The artistic performance of a stage actor is definitely presented to the public by the actor in person; that of the screen actor, however, is presented by a camera, with a twofold consequence. The camera that presents the performance of the film actor to . from speaking of the film as one might speak of paintings by Fra Angelico . Characteristically, even today ultrareactionary authors give the film a similar contextual significance . the film . unmark . he fi . f . has not yet matured because our eyes have not yet adjusted to it . Abel Gance, for instance, compares the film with hieroglyphs: “Here, by a remarkable regression, we have come back to the level of expression of the Egyptians ... Pictorial language . Soon the film theoreticians asked the same ill-considered question with regard to the film. . The primary question – whether the very invention of photography had not transformed the entire nature of art – was not raised. . he dispute was in fact the symptom of a historical transformation the universal impact of which was not realized by either of the rivals. . The nineteenth-century dispute as to the artistic value of painting versus photography today seems devious and confused . The directives which the captions give to those looking at pictures in illustrated magazines soon become even more explicit and more imperative in the film where the meaning of each single picture appears to be prescribed by the sequence of all preceding . free-floating contemplation is not appropriate to them. . With Atget, photographs become standard evidence for historical occurrences, and acquire a hidden political significance. . For the last time the aura emanates from the early photographs in the fleeting expression of a human face. . The cult of remembrance of loved ones, absent or dead, offers a last refuge for the cult value of the picture. . But cult value does not give way without resistance . In photography, exhibition value begins to displace cult value all along the line. . by the absolute emphasis on its exhibition value the work of art becomes a creation with entirely new functions, . This much is certain: today photography and the film are the most serviceable exemplifications of this new function. . The same holds for the painting as against the mosaic or fresco that preceded it . It is easier to exhibit a portrait bust that can be sent here and there than to exhibit the statue of a divinity that has its fixed place in the interior of a temple . Works . With the emancipation of the various art practices from ritual go increasing opportunities for the exhibition of their products. . Certain statues of gods are accessible only to the priest in the cella; . Today the cult value would seem to demand that the work of art remain hidden. . The elk portrayed by the man of the Stone Age on the walls of his cave was an instrument of magic . Artistic production begins with ceremonial objects destined to serve in a cult. . the exhibition value of the work. . with one, the accent is on the cult value . Two polar types stand out
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