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Themesicon: navigation pathAesthetics of the Digitalicon: navigation pathAesthetic Paradigms
Aaron (Cohen, Harold), 1974

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value of authenticity in connection with the individual (manual, direct and genius-inspired) creation, an attitude strongly rooted in bourgeois-intellectual tradition.

If one considers Benjamin’s argument that the mechanical reproduction of a work is responsible for the ‹decline› of the aura, one recognizes the contradiction in his hypothesis. The ‹aura› is a category of perception, and can therefore only arise during the process of reception; it is not inherent to the originality or authenticity or uniqueness of the work’s creation, i.e. it is not bound to the material or the object, but is observer-dependent. Within the process of reception the uniqueness or multifariousness of the object is a practical question in relation to accessing the work of art. And Benjamin’s critique concerns precisely this access. Asserting that mass reproduction is conducive to the reproduction of masses, [17] he points to two-fold consequences: the erosion of the myth of the intellectual ‹exclusivity› of art, and the fear of cultural products being exploited by authoritarian regimes as a means of controlling the masses.


The objections to thinking in terms of originality become even more explicit with the introduction of new technologies to simulate the process of creation, paradigmatically exemplified by the AI program «Aaron,» with which the British artist Harold Cohen delivered a practical argument pointing out a different problem in connection with authorship and authenticity. His art-expert program is specialized in producing works with a ‹style› of their own. [18] By asking «Can machines think?»—a polemical question which practically launched the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence—Alan Turing attempted to investigate the relationship between simulation and real action. In addition, he opened the discussion about the possibility of working out a theoretical experiment that could serve as a criterion for deciding whether a computer is capable of thinking or not (the Turing Theorem). Since then the interest of researchers into Artificial Intelligence might be said, put briefly, to have centered on the question of the simulacrum. The issue divides into two fundamental themes: simulation as a phenomenon whose attributes merely approximate those of what is being simulated—in which case the

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