Paper details:

employing and explaining Walter Benjamin’s concept of the “aura” of an artwork and his belief that mechanical reproduction threatens a genuine artwork’s aura and the possibility of authentic aesthetic experience, and the two concepts from Foucault’s “This is Not a Pipe” which are
1) connection between image + text.
2) plastic representation vs linguistic reference.
In these terms, analyze the paintings number 1 and 15 by Rene Magritte from “this is not a pipe”.

texts and sources to use:
1) Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936).
2) Foucault, This is Not A Pipe (1983).
3) Plates by Magritte in “this is not a pipe”

MUGO’s Note

The book can be accessed from


The Plate’s Name

According to Walter Benjamin, the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, which mostly refers to the period in the 20th century, has shifted the perception of art in photography and film works. The way people look and visualize artwork has changed and this has come with its consequences. Modernity of artwork has many effects on how people perceive art and how it relates to their lives. Particularly in the film and photography field, Benjamin (p. 89) notes that there is a big difference of the aura through the mechanical reproduction of the work of art. Moreover, his artwork represents the originality and genuineness of the kind of art being reproduced. He points out that while a painting portrays itself ass an aura, a photography artwork does not. In this case the photograph represents an image of an image while the painting remains solely to be original.

In images, the sense of aura is completely lost and the reproducible text itself reveals a historical shift that individuals in the modern society should take into account even though it is hardly noticed.  There is often an increased conflict between the emerging modes of perception regarding the work of art and the aura that it is set in (Benjamin 108). For instance in the case of an image, the camera man intercedes with what he or she sees and stands by it. Therefore, the removal of authoritative power within the original work creates a loss of aura and the genuineness of the art work. This in turn changes the perception through which different people perceive or consume the artwork. The perception created by an image directs the eye of the viewer towards a specific place and specific story regarding the image or painting.

Seeing and reading brings about the idea of images and texts in artwork. There is always a great problem when it comes to relating texts and images since the meaning is often changed. Words are mostly used to describe the images and thereby reveal the hidden information and their perception is never the same in relation to different individuals. Magritte’s relates to the principle that unites the fact of resemblance and assertion of the representation of art. Magritte’s distinguished artwork, “Ceçi n’est pas une pipe” of (1926) argues that within modernity, individuals are wrongly positioned within an established system of visualizing links that portray visual representation of the painting of a pipe (Foucault 65). In addition, it is imperative to note that Foucault’s analysis of the dissimilarity between linguistic reference and plastic representation has some bit of resemblance. An image will actually resemble reality while a text may have varied perceptions depending on the individuals.

In conclusion, representation brings differences in the original copy when compared with the model image from where it is derived. It is difficult to determine the original element in most cases given that there is a resemblance in their mode of representation. The modern world clearly defies a common logic and criticizes the unsteadiness experienced in the representation of art work. Unfamiliarity of art work is displayed by the way lines and letters are revealed in a given context. Furthermore, Foucault (p.73) doubts whether linguistic acts as the final source for the formulation of reality by individuals. It is clear that the reality in a given language is encountered in the original work.

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