Art it is primarily in pursuit of true

Art is not indifferent to truth and representation; it is primarily in pursuit of true representation. People write about art with the aim of clarifying and accounting for their responses to works that interest or frustrate them (Barnet 1). However, the truth pursued by art is not that of a relation, but that of individual facts which help in establishing relationships. While this might be the case, different scholars have established theoretical backgrounds that seek to establish the relationship between truth and representation in artwork. Among these scholars include Walter Benjamin and Laura Mulvey, whose contributions not only highlight the relationship between truth and representation, but also highlight significant historical changes in the field of art and how these changes affect the concept of truth and representation. This essay will critically define and explain the meaning behind truth and representation by analyzing Benjamin and Mulvey’s essays and establishing the differences in these authors’ respective concepts. In addition, this essay will analyze Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych to demonstrate each angle taken by these writers and establish a relationship between truth and representation.Benjamin’s contribution can be seen through his essay, The Work of Art In The Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. In his essay, he highlights a shift in perception and its effects with the arrival of film and photography in the twentieth century. Benjamin suggests that technological reproduction dramatically devalues the aura of artwork and significantly influences the representation of the history of art, cultural studies and media theory (Benjamin 22). On the other hand, Laura Mulvey’s contribution is seen through her essay, Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema. Her essay uses a psychoanalytical approach to explore how visual art is reinforced by individual factors and social formations. Mulvey applies a feminist approach and demonstrates how the heterosexual male represents contemporary narrative.Benjamin’s essay provides a historical overview of the characteristic changes in art in the modern age. His insights point towards the human sensory perspective which he believes has a historical component as well as a biological and natural component. In other words, the way people view visual works of art changes with time, and the consequences cannot be determined. Benjamin applies a Marxist approach which aligns the transformation of art to the changes in economic markets (Benjamin 12). Benjamin sets apart contemporary works of art from traditional works of art using artistic aura. He believes that conventional works of art have an aura that is characterized by unique magical or supernatural appearances. However, this aura disappeared in the modern era when art became reproducible. As he said, the ways works of art are visualized have changed over time, and its effects are yet to be determined. For example, the aura of a painting remains original while the aura of a photograph does not exist.  The loss of aura in the film is a representation of a historical shift that has taken place even if it is not noticed. According to Benjamin, the loss of aura seems to be the removal of authority from the artwork, but the loss is not contingent regarding mass consumption (Benjamin 15). For instance, an artwork cannot interfere with what we see, unlike a photographic image. Photography tends to suggest direction to a specific place and story. Unlike a painting, it offers only a specific side of the story without much emphasis on other parts. It is true that photographs do not do a scene or person justice, that seeing in reality is far superior to seeing in a photograph. Benjamin believes that aura no longer exists, and it can be considered dead (Benjamin 15). The loss of aura due to technological reproduction has a high potential to open up for the politicization of art, regardless of whether it is beneficial or detrimental. Benjamin’s views on cinema are owed to the politics and conception of Marxism. Ultimately, Benjamin ruins the approach of Marxist understanding as he opposes the art of politicization and views them as fascism and communism projects.Benjamin praises his work by stating that the reflection of his work gives the aesthetic theory, a contemporary form while avoiding all political connections. He suggested that the graphic arts become technologically reproducible through images. However, the reproduction of art can be said to lack an element of space and time as its unique existence (Benjamin 17). The reproduction of art also lacks the history of ownership, physical conditions and authenticity. In addition, Benjamin states that the new age of mechanical reproduction, the film nature, as well as the screen contemplation has altered the way people interpret it. For instance, when observing a moving image move, the perception of the image changes.I agree with Benjamin’s point of view, and I support the notion that mechanical reproduction of art has significantly affected its aura, authenticity, and uniqueness. We lose the originality and the personal touch when using contemporary elements of visual arts which can be reproduced in different forms and formats. For example, in this modern age, paintings can be bought as posters which can be printed on various types of paper, and the color can be distorted to impress an artist. While the painting may still be appealing to its consumers and producers, it loses its physical attributes, including its originality and the intended message. In other words, the process of mechanical reproduction eliminates the naturalness and authenticity of artwork. Benjamin’s argument about aura and authenticity reiterates that the original artworks are highly valued, as opposed to the reproduced ones that are easily accessible and most likely far less expensive. Thus, the reproduction of art in modern times has lost its truth and appearance. Laura Mulvey utilizes the psychoanalysis theory as a “political weapon” to demonstrate the patriarch subconscious of the society. Mulvey suggests that the text in cinema is organized in the cultural psyche that is essentially patriarch (Mulvey 16). Mulvey believes that pleasure is not only found in the visual itself but also in visions of the identity formation through visual practices, as well as the power incorporated in the narrative cinema. The representation forms the subjectivity of unconsciousness as well as how female spectators take the patriarch society ideology through male gaze borrowing. Visual narrative explains the claims of scopophilic view, for instance, in the world where there is the sexual imbalance, the pleasure is split between male and female (Mulvey 20). Mulvey raises several interesting points, and I agree with her. It is unfortunate that the role of women in film is displayed like an exhibition, where they are used simply for visual pleasure. Typically, and more so in older films, a woman acts as an erotic spectacle and is portrayed as a sexual object. There is an imbalance in society of sexuality where the pleasure of men is more important than that of women. To be considered an icon when one is a woman, women had to play the exhibitionist role. It is indeed known that what counts in such a society is what the women provoke in men as well as what she intends to represent.What makes Benjamin’s view of truth and appearance differ from that of Mulvey’s is how the artist embeds meaning into their work. Benjamin suggests that the truth and appearance of an artwork are defined by the artist, which is then distorted through reproduction; while Mulvey’s view is based on the notion that artistic works depend on existing mechanisms which are created and left for viewers to determine their truth and appearances. In short, Benjamin’s viewpoint explains how artworks lose their meaning and appearances among their viewers due to the changes effected, as opposed to Mulvey’s view which is aimed at embedding the truth and appearance of its themes to viewers. Benjamin’s hypothesis is built on a factual transition of art, and the significant effects of this shift to the form and nature of contemporary art. His arguments regarding truth and representation are embedded in the production process of artistic work. Benjamin believes that the real meaning of an artwork depends on its original production as opposed to its reproduction. The central theme here is that reproduction allows for different interpretations that may not have been intended by the original artist.  On the other hand, Mulvey’s hypothesis is more focused on the visual objectification of female characters. The audience derives pleasure from art through scopophilia and egotism. In a way, the truth in film or photography is what the artist chooses to show, and how they produce the meanings they choose to produce. Interpretation depends on what the viewer sees, but can be easily influenced by what the artist chooses to focus on. In other words, Mulvey views truth in art as being defined by how an artwork is produced, while the appearance is determined by how the viewer, through their culturally defined subconscious, interacts with the content.Marilyn Diptych is a silkscreen painting by American pop artist, Andy Warhol. The painting was completed a few weeks after Marilyn Monroe’s death, and was based on a single publicity photograph of the actress extracted from a film (Huntsman 180). Silkscreen printing was used in the eighteenth century to print on fabrics. Screen printing was introduced to the art world through pop culture in the 1960s when artists embraced the idea of commercializing art (Huntsman 88). In photography, screen printing involves a stencil method of printing which may be used to print on a variety of surfaces. Andy Warhol created Marilyn Diptych by reprinting 50 similar images of Marilyn Monroe using the silkscreen printing technique as shown in Figure 1 (Huntsman 180).Figure 1: Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962. Acrylic on canvas Source:  (Huntsman 179)A critical analysis of this artwork concerning truth and appearance results in a significant loss of aura and originality. It is impossible to determine the original painting due to its multiplication onto various screens that carry the same image of the actress in various shapes, textures, and colors. Because this image is reproduced repeatedly, the more people look at the picture, the more they lose its meaning. The viewer will feel less and less of the feelings the artwork intended to produce the longer they view it. In other words, the artwork continues to lose its purpose through multiplication and reproduction. Warhol used different color controls on the same image in order to convey different forms of impression. With this technique, the changes in color affect the mood and tone of the artwork, and in turn distort the natural appearance of the image. Silkscreen printing was characterized by the use of non-representational color controls to convey different forms of sensation. The multicolored prints of Marilyn Monroe highlight the re-imagination and re-invention of pop culture as a vibrant art. The entire series creates excitement which is established by the tonal variations. In a way, the artwork tells a story by the artist using Warhol’s color choices which dramatically alter how the subject is seen. The changes in color transform the repeating image of Monroe’s facial features, including her eyes, lips, and classy beauty marks, into a complex image. The differences in which the beauty marks appear in each of the paintings make people see Monroe’s face differently, altering the perception of defining her personality throughout the series.I believe that Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych is a great representation of Benjamin and Mulvey’s opposing and proposing views on the essence of truth and appearance in art. Based on Benjamin’s argument, this artwork has shown the effects of reproduction on aura, originality, and uniqueness of the work. On the other hand, this artwork fits into Mulvey’s argument based on the use of color to highlight sexual sensation and create an overall appearance of women as objects of gaze. While these views might be different in the eyes of the two authors, their reasoning coincides in informing their readers that artwork is an imitation of something, a feeling, or a vision whose truth is far from what is represented. In other words, the real truth and appearance in art can only be found in reality.


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