Music and Censorship the First Amendment U.S. Essay

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MUSIC AND CENSORSHIP the FIRST AMENDMENT U.S. Constitution: Congress make law respecting establishment religion, prohibiting free exercise thereof; abridging freedom speech, press; people peaceably assemble, petition Government a redress grievances.

Photography as art: Walter Benjamin on photography

The invention of photography was initially viewed as a challenge to conventional forms of art because it could more perfectly replicate the surface of reality than any human brushstroke. However, artists were able to meet this challenge through using the human imagination and decentralizing the emphasis on replication. But Walter Benjamin argued that photography still posed a very profound and troubling challenge to art. Before, when people gazed at art, they were gazing at something recognizably 'other' that could not be reproduced and was an object with its own integrity. In contrast, a photograph can always be reproduced in its entirety and thus exists as a commodity. People long for some originality in photography: "all the artistic preparation of the photographer and all the design of the positioning of his model to the contrary, the viewer feels the compulsion to seek the tiny spark of accident, the here and now" (Benjamin 202). Photography is always a copy of a copy -- unlike a reproduction of art or a photograph of a statue, the copy is 'the same' as the original. It is a mere image of an image, while art is art itself. Because photography is ultimately a commodity, there is always the demand that it represents the ideal rather than the unique.

In our own era, the demand that 'the beautiful' is shown through photography is so omnipresent that even 'real' beautiful people are not beautiful enough. This was seen recently when the famous musician and performance artist Lady Gaga took the fashion magazine Glamour to task for airbrushing out all of her imperfections to the point that she felt the photograph on the cover was unrecognizable as Gaga herself. Photographers can take an image that seems superficially like 'the real' and yet alter it enough so that it bears little representation to reality. Few people aspire to look like a painting but many aspire to replicate what they see in photographs. Photographs give the illusion of the real but they are actually more false according to Benjamin -- they are always copies while art is an object in and of itself. This is why photography can be so easily used serve commercial interests. Benjamin does allow that some artistic photographers have used this principle this to great effect to create something surreal, such as early Russian filmmakers who lived outside of a commercial culture of photography, but he believes this to be extremely rare.

Furthermore, even very artistic photographs that are supposed to not be beautiful but truthful have a very studied quality to them that distances them from their original sources in reality. As noted by Susan Sontag, "even when photographers are most concerned with mirroring reality, they are still haunted by tacit imperatives of taste and conscience," as in the photographers chronicling the suffering of farmers during the Dust Bowl during the 1930s who "would take dozens of frontal pictures of one of their sharecropper subjects until satisfied that they had gotten just the right look on film -- the precise expression on the subject's face…

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