This paper explores the concept of aura, defined within three of Walter Benjamin’s texts including: “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, “Little History of Photography”, and “Some Motifs in Baudelaire”. Its primary concern is the role of the aura in understanding the natural, nonhuman object and the effect of its reproduction in early and contemporary photography. In this vein, the paper fleshes out the concept through an analysis of American photographer Sally Mann, specifically the southern landscapes, which form her collection published under the title, “Deep South”. I hope to provide evidence of the capacity of the aura to undermine modern (and postmodern) ways of seeing and appreciating natural landscapes, and develop new theoretical uses for the concept in the larger discourse of environmental aesthetics. Aura, as a structure of perception, allows each subject to reconsider the boundaries between nature and self. It forces the individual to consider the modern problem of place through an embedded experience of time.
|Keywords:||Environmental Aesthetics, Memory of Place, Walter Benjamin, Aura, Sally Mann, Photographic Technology, Landscape Theory|
PhD Student, Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada