Eye or Ear: Walter Benjamin on Optical and Acoustical Media

Co-Organizer: Sven Spieker (with Elisabeth Weber and Wolf Kittler). UCSB, December 1, 2006. This one-day international conference investigated the relationship between three aspects of Benjamin’s work: his language theory, his media theory, and his radio praxis. Since the essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” is predominantly focused on painting, photography and film, much more is known about Benjamin’s understanding of these optical media than about his approach to such acoustic devices as the telephone, the wireless telegraph, radio, and sound film. The conference addressed this critical gap in Benjamin scholarship.