Ethan’s post is a very informative and interesting piece which dwells on the question of the aura of authentic artefacts and their reproductions. I agree with Ethan’s opinion that the unoriginality of the object and the lack of proximity to the past create a disconnect between the public and the digital reproduction. Ethan further contends the view that “reproductions are not void of aura” and that they acquire some aura from the originals. He also gives interesting examples in support of his view that digital/material reproductions acquire their own aura and cultural biography.
While I agree to some extent with Ethan’s view that reproductions can have their own aura, I disagree with his opinion that we need to reconstruct monuments that have been destroyed. I do not support Ethan’s view that reproductions rather than the empty space (in the case of the Sensoji Temple and the Bamiyan Buddhas) bring us closer to the past. I think that the void space left after the destruction of a monument is a consequence of a historical event and this vacated space gives us a stronger connection to that event. I am of the opinion that reconstructions have their rightful place in the museums and we should not, by default, reproduce destroyed monuments in their original place. However sad the loss of a monument is, its absence is a testament to the particular historical event which we cannot and should not try to erase. The missing monuments in Palmyra will forever remind us of the atrocities committed by ISIS and reconstructing them in situ does not seem the right thing to do. It is the absence of the monument, the emptiness left after its destruction that emanates the strong sense of loss and destruction (for example the Twin Towers in New York). On the other hand, museums should be the place where the full story/biography of an artefact/monument is retold.