Kool Killer oder Der Aufstand der Zeichen – Jean Baudrillard


Although released for the first time as part of this anthology in 1978, “Kool Killer oder Der Aufstand der Zeichen” (“KOOL KILLER, or The Insurrection of Signs“) the essay was published first in French in the 3rd issue of Interférences in 1975. This makes the text one of the earliest scientific ones on New York graffiti and let us pay closer attention to this often quoted classic.

The French philosopher, cultural theorist and sociologist describes a rise of written names in the spring of 1972 on walls, fences, subways, buses, trucks, monuments, etc.. Comparing them to other known forms of graffiti, he evaluates the meaning of names like DUKE, SPIRIT, SUPERKOOL, SPIDER, EDDIE135, SHADOW137 or WOODIE110 not as politic, neither pornographic. Without giving any proof, Baudrillard assigns the writings to black and Puerto Rican youths, slightly implies racial motives and since he does not find any deeper meaning in them, he denies a meaning at all.

Besides this controversial often cited definition a far more interesting aspect is the clear distinction between graffiti, mural walls as city’s top-down-projects often supported by advertising companies and ‘wild’ neighbourhood paintings without permission Baudrillard points out. He defines graffiti as non-ideological and not as art because of its supposed lack of message and meaning.

This end-70s reader is an evergreen, although in some parts outdated, especially Jean Baudrillards thoughts on public mural art projects seem quite up-to-date. Please notice that the book is in German language.

128 pages, 12,1 x 16,8 cm, softcover
Language: German
Release date: 1978
Publisher: Merve Verlag Berlin

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