Where is the aura? This photograph shows the interconnectedness of the busiest pathways within my school campus, a boarding high school in New Jersey. Yet, this photograph looks like a reproduction of a painting. The photograph looks nothing like its original, its referent, diverging paths leading to the different areas of study within boarding school education. Closing my eyes, I cannot distance the distortions of this photograph from the reality of this path. I see memories of teenagers laughing with their friends and of philosophy teachers talking amongst themselves. The aura is within my memory.
I wonder if Benjamin would agree. I doubt it. Benjamin claims that film is more important to people today, because they think that they can perceive reality that has not been intervened or constructed. They cherish the exposition value. In actuality, film has been intervened and constructed by equipment. This photograph cannot be evidence. This photograph proves nothing.
“The unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art always has its basis in ritual.” (Benjamin, 105). Benjamin may not agree, but this photograph “has its basis in ritual” for me. This photograph embodies daily rituals of gossiping along its rugged pathways and running from snowballs on the walk to class on brisk winter days. This photograph has cult value for the cult of Lawrentians bolting late to class today, tomorrow, and of many years before. This traditional context compromises its uniqueness, its aura.