A Semiotic Reading and Discourse Analysis of Postmodern Street Performance
Lee, Mimi Miyoung, Chung, Sheng Kuan, Studies in Art Education
As prevalence of new-age communication devices such as Internet, mobile phones, Blackberries, iPods, and hand-held televisions affords more diverse and accessible interactions in physical and virtual environments, the young generations today spend more time than previous generations receiving media-related Information, communicating with each other, and playing games online. They glide effortlessly between the virtual and the physical world. Many researchers and educators have begun to address this phenomenon intensively and have started to focus on the social aspect of online gaming and its Implications for education (Brown, 2006; Gee, 2004; Squire, 2002).
Along these lines, art educators have also started paying attention to postmodern conditions and art education with respect to innovative uses of new technologies such as virtual reality (jagodzinski, 2005; Sakatanl, 2005), computer art (Humphries, 2003), Identity formation in relation to popular and visual culture (Gaudelius & Speirs, 2002), interactive hypertext (Carpenter & Taylor, 2006), and digital storytelling (Chung, 2007), as well as other unconventional media in new platforms (I.e., graffiti and street art). Challenging the traditional notion of art as tangible objects Intended mostly for the high culture, these "new" forms of art encourage discussions regarding the philosophy of art, contemporary technovisual culture, and the development of multiliteracy (see Duncum, 2004).
In this era of multimodal representations, it is of crucial importance that we prepare students and teachers to be able to understand and examine the various modes of representation and the processes of their social construction. With the view taken from social semiotics, in which visual arts Is seen as a form of communication (Chaplin, 1 994), we see many recent works of postmodern street art as relevant illustrations of how meaning is not just given but is always socially constructed. Social semiotics offers a new perspective on interpreting postmodern street art. Because of the emphasis of semiotics on codes, signs, and their interactions, art educators have adopted them into their research and classroom practices (jagodzinski, 2004; Smith-Shank, 1 995; Wyrick, 2004).
In the postmodern arena, artists produce conceptual art using unconventional media, Inspired/mediated by computer technologies, and presented through guerrilla communications and street performances. The existing art criticism models such as those proposed by Anderson (1993), Barrett (1994), Broudy (1972), and Feldman (1981) are Inadequate for dealing with non-institutionalized postmodern art, whether circulated in the streets or on the Internet. In this article, we propose employing social semiotics and critical discourse analysis for understanding postmodern street art. We explore the "WOW" Project by Berlinbased media artist Aram Bartholl asan example for this illustration. We conclude by garnering insights from reading and reflecting on Bartholl's work from a semiotic perspective. As part of those efforts, we propose the employment of social semiotics and discourse analysis as more reflexive ways of understanding postmodern street art practices.
We define postmodern street art and, in particular, street performances. We then offer several select educational implications of this form of communication and representation. The section will be followed by discussions on social semiotics and critical discourse analysis and how they can be used to serve as a helpful analytical framework for understanding postmodern street performance. After that, we use Bartholl's works to illustrate an actual application of these methods and present our associated analyses.
Postmodern Street Performance
Postmodern street performance has its roots in the activist and feminist art movement of the 1 960s. Apart from artists In the institutionalized art world, postmodern street artists adopt guerrilla communication and pubic Intervention methods to disseminate their work with an intention of generating public discourse about various social practices. …