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Faire (de la magie): rendre l'invisible visible

Hellings, J. (2018) Faire (de la magie): rendre l'invisible visible. In: Où en Sommes-Nous avec la Théorie Esthétique d'Adorno? Pontcerq, Rennes. ISBN 9782919648245

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Abstract/Summary

In this essay I argue that there is a certain form of magic at work in the aesthetic experience of art, regardless of whether that experience is one of making or receiving art. Aura, I argue, best names art's tricky magic. I reconfigure the terms of the historical debate concerning aura, art, photography, and film, that Theodor W. Adorno had with his close friend Walter Benjamin, for the contemporary situation of artist's film (Tacita Dean and Hito Steyerl). I show how Benjamin's definition of aura remains relatively consistent across a number of his influential essays (Little History / Work of Art), but that the sense or the emphasis Benjamin gives to aura is inconsistent. I perform a close reading of Adorno's critique of Benjamin, and Adorno's defense of aura as a 'para-' or 'counter-aura,' and I show how this auratic image is manifest in contemporary film and artist's film. I argue that the magical element or value of aura may well be in decline, but that it must not be left to decay. I argue that art's magic has its truth and its untruth. That which is invisible or unmediatedly seen is, I argue, rendered visible in art or made transparent on film. Therein lies the magic of making auratic images via auratic perception, which is more than a mere sleight of hand. It is, I argue, possible 'to imagine an art that participates in society as the placeholder of a radical otherness which is therefore utopian,' and the auratic image, which 'compounds within itself the magical element with the sign of freedom - despite Benjamin's protestations - still best names it.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Art > Fine Art
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Art > Art History
ID Code:77727
Publisher:Pontcerq

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