Neil Leach : Walter Benjamin; mimesis and the dreamworld of photography

Walter Benjamin; mimesis and the dreamworld of photography
Neil Leach, ‘Walter Benjamin, Mimesis and the Dreamworld of Photography, in Iain Borden and Jane Rendell (eds.), Intersections, London: Routledge, 2000, pp. 27-38.

이 글은 벤야민이 mimesis를 어떻게 creative한 energy로 해석하는지 분석하고 있다.
one-way street / A berlin Childhood around 1900 등의 글을 통해서. 그는 단지 plato의 입장에서 mimesis를 바라보는 게 아니고, 정신분석학적 측면에서 mimesis를 새롭게 해석하고자 한다. 단순하 imitation이 아니다. 그는 mimesis를 주체가 외부세계와의 공통점을 찾으려는 시도로 분석한다. 따라서 대상과 재현 사이의 플라토적 열등한 관계를 역전시켜서 mimesis를 constructive reinterpretation으로 본다.

photo (5)

Benjamin observes repetitive actions of the machine, such that their own behavior begin to replicate those actions, so too human beings in general have adapted to the world of the camera. p.1.

In order to fully appreciate a photograph, the mind must work in creative and imaginative ways so as to engage through the medium of the photograph with the world which it represents. p.3.

in his theory of mimesis, here should not be understood in the terms used, say by Plato, as simple ‘imitation’. Rather mimesis in Adorno, as indeed in Walter Benjamin’s writings, is a pshchoanalytic term -taken from Freud-that refers to a cretive engagement with an object.
Mimesis is a term as Freud himself predicted, of great potential significance for aesthetics. p.5.

For Benjamin the concept of mimesis for an identification with the external world. It facilitates the possibility of forging a link between self and other. The principle behind mimesis is the urge to seek similarities in the world as a means of relating to it. p.6.

the model becomes the vehicle for identifying with the original object. In each case the aim is to assimilate to the original object. Mimesis is therefore a form of imitation that may be evoked both by artist who makes a work of art, and also by the person who views it.p.6.

The point here is that to reproduce something may step beyond mere imitation. Benjamin reverse the hierarchy between object and its representation. He challenges the earlier Platonic notion of mimesis as an essentially compromised form of imitation that necessarily losses something of the original. For Benjamin mimesis alludes to a constructive reinterpretation of an original, which becomes a creative act in himself. Furthemore, it potentially becomes a way of empathing with the world, and it is through empathy that we can at least assimilate to the other. p.6-7

In mimesis imagination is at work, and serves to reconcile the subject with the object. This imagination operates at the level of fantasy, which mediates between the unconscious and the conscious, dream and reality. p.7.

mimesis as offering the possibility of assimiliation not only by modeling oneself on an object, but also by engaging with the model of that object, we can see how photographic representation may provide that mechanism of identification. photography becomes the model. p.8.

new technologies of camera and film clearly demonstrate. These technologies provide human beings with unprecedented perceptual acuity, out of which, Benjamin believed, a less magical, more scientific form of the mimetic faculty was developing in his own era. p.11.

Photographs can be seen in the same light as mimetic representations of actual buildings, which might as it were, conjure up those builidngs for the beholder. Photographs can therefore be seen to charged with the potential to open up a world. p.11.

What defines human beings as being human is their capacity to identify with those representations and through them to conjure up whole environments which they depict. p.12.
And so ti would appear that while human beings have adapted to the camera, and have assimilated themselves to its technological mechanisms, such that they know read the world in terms of the snapshot, it is also through the camera. and the images that it produces that they can understand precisely what it is to be human. p, 12,

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