Saturday, July 01, 2006

Benjamin and digitization

As with [Walter] Benjamin’s pioneering understanding of film in the 1930s, the present era of digitization constitutes a conundrum of a radical, potentially disruptive technology exacerbating some interesting changes and discontinuities in our relations to media materiality, content and carrier.
The metamorphosis of music-listening and the (alleged) obliteration of the aura
Bearing on Walter Benjamin’s cultural analysis of the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, I am here sketching on some possibilities offered by the current, globally distributed process of digitization of media content. Some pertinent themes are the question of digital content as artefact or flow; the question of meaning, activity and passivity; and ultimately, I am here arguing, the question of digitization constituting a radical fragmentation of value.
This academic paper was originally presented at Sounds of the Overground, a postgraduate colloquium on ubiquitous music and music in everyday life, held at University of Liverpool 17/5 2006. I want to credit Rasmus Fleischer, Dan Hill and Andrea Rota for inspiration, quotes and food for thought.

To be published in a joint publication following the Sounds of the Overground colloquium. For the current version, see this link (pdf).