Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Curated by Simone Doing and Max Puchalsky, co-lead curators at ALL, Digital Aura responds to philosopher Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936). The exhibition presents works by four artists who are re-inventing the meaning of Benjamin’s concept of “aura” within the context of our contemporary digital age.
For Benjamin, an artwork’s aura exists as both a feeling of presence and an attitude of artistic reverence—an “aesthetic experience” resulting from the work of art’s unique existence. As such, Benjamin argued that aura is lost when the singular authenticity of an artwork can be multiplied through reproducible media. The artists in this exhibition, however, challenge Benjamin’s concept of aura. They embrace technological developments that have introduced the possibility of infinite reproduction, and thereby demonstrate the ability of digital works to evoke a sense of ritualistic awe while simultaneously engaging in dialogues of social concern.
Through a combination of sublime imagery, ambient sound, and existential thematic material, the works in this exhibition embody a unique “digital aura” and inspire ongoing dialogues about how globalized society understands and assigns value in the digital age.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website