A while back on Twitter, I "microblogged" an observation/realization that I don't particularly enjoy photography exhibits in museums because photographs have no aura. This was met with shock and disapproval, as though I'd said photography's got no mojo, or power, or that, by god, it's not even art, which is not what I meant at all.
I like photography as much as any artform, certainly more than some. I was using "aura" in the "Benjaminian" sense: aura is the quality an original has that reproductions don't. Uniqueness as an object, a thing located in time and space. Aura isn't a necessary condition of art (poetry doesn't have any, unless you fetishize handwritten drafts), but it's the reason why you have a different experience when you see a Kandinsky painting in a book and then see the "real" one in a museum. With photos, there is no "real" one. Or the distinction is academic.
Really fabulous photographs are going to make for a worthwhile experience no matter what, but let's say it's just a pretty good photo vs. a pretty good sculpture or painting. 99 times out of 100, I'll appreciate the sculpture or painting more in a museum setting, and the photograph more if I see it in a book (or even online, gasp). If a photo is meant to be real huge, then yeah, probably seeing it in person is better, but that's usually not the case, and usually the effect is the same whether it's hung on a wall or not. In fact museums often wreck the effect for me (just shake your rump) by hanging them under glass and creating a bunch of glare from the lighting. For me this makes the experience less intimate, almost sterile. (Plus you're in a public place and there's this prescribed way you're supposed to look at it, ugh. Maybe I just don't like museums, as places to be.) But with the sculpture or painting, a picture in a book is not at all the same effect. I have similar feelings about film; I don't need to see a film in a museum, if it's not interesting in another setting then it's not an interesting film.
Obviously there are many cases where a museum is the only setting where you could see a film or a photograph; that's the distribution channel, it's how the artist's work gets an audience. I'm just saying, given the option, my personal preference ... (also leaving out of this discussion conceptual art that is perfectly reproducible but not easily distributed) ...
So my question is, is this really that wackadoodle? Am I being a dick?