New Media and the Permanent Crisis of Aura

Document type: Journal Articles
Article type: Original article
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Jay Bolter
Title: New Media and the Permanent Crisis of Aura
Translated title: Nya medier och aurans permanenta kris
Journal: Convergence : The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Year: 2006
Volume: 12
Issue: 1
Pagination: 21-39
ISSN: 1354-8565
Publisher: Sage
City: Luton
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Technoculture, Humanities and Planning (Sektionen för teknokultur, humaniora och samhällsbyggnad)
School of Technoculture, Humanities and Planning S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: Walter Benjamin is best known for his essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
Reproduction’, (Benjamin, 1968b) in which he argues that film and other mechanical technologies
are destroying the aura that had belonged to traditional art. In this article we apply Benjamin’s
concept of aura to new (digital) media, and in particular to ‘mixed reality’, a group of technologies
that blend computer-generated visual, aural, and textual information into the user’s physical
environment. We argue that mixed reality increases the options for designer-artists and apparently
allows the invocation of aura in new ways. Our culture’s pursuit of auratic experience remains problematic
in mixed reality as it was for Benjamin in the case of film. New media maintain aura in a
permanent state of oscillation or crisis, and this crisis is a key to understanding new media.
Subject: The Humanities\English
Keywords: augmented reality, aura, Walter Benjamin, media theory, remediation