B.Walters Aura

Let’s have a little nostalgia moment or like the social media lingo, a throwback. Remember the days when you visited a museum, reserve or art gallery for the first time and you left with a ‘kind of unexplainable feeling’ of euphoria and enthusiasm. Well… unfortunately, or fortunately (depends on how you see it) that memory is going into extinction According to Benjamin Walters he terms this ‘feeling’ as an AURA. He defines the aura as:

”We define the aura…as the unique apparition of a distance, however near it may be. To follow with the eye—while resting on a summer afternoon—a mountain range on the horizon, or a branch that casts its shadow on the beholder, is to breathe the aura of those mountains, of that branch”(Walters 1930).

Though I am of the opinion that his definition does not fully explain what the aura means, Walters is of the opinion that modernity has dealt a great blow on the aura through its invention of the photographic camera that makes it possible to view history without experiencing the ‘feeling’.Benjamin  adds that the aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art which cannot be reproduced by a technological image.

However, he draws on the following questions:

a.What happens to Aura?

b. How is human sense perception related to history

c. Is he criticising a universal phenomenon?

Benjamin Laments that when the spectator of an image would realise the aura of an image is not present, the producers of the mechanical production would replace the aura with distraction as a mode of reception.


”It falls back to the last entrenchment: the human countenance. In the cult of remembrance…the cult value of the image finds its last refuge. In the fleeting expression of a human face, the aura beckons from early photographs for the last time. This is what gives them their melancholy and incomparable beauty”.


This cult of genius would become a mythological space where humans would begin to find aura in places like a cinema. Though the truth about Benjamin Walters lamentations cannot and should not be under emphasised, However, I am of the opinion that the introduction of the technological image like Andre Bazin’s theory of cinema would help humans to store up memories of their existence at little or no cost.Take, for example, I as an individual would not have been able to see what the Monalisa looks(ed) like without the existence of the mechanical image neither would I have had the opportunity to see it at Musee le Louvre  because paintings such as the Monalisa would be classified. However, I am also in accordance with Walters because the experience you acquire from viewing an Everest  or any of the wonders of the world cannot be measured through a photographic image because technology is changing humanity’s entire mode of existence.


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