Cultural Discourse looks at a broad range of cultural issues.
24th July 2012

On Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Quest for a New Semiotic Machine

by John David Ebert

Apparatuses of Semiotic Capture

The central anxiety of Basquiat’s art — and it is an anxiety that runs through every single painting he ever did — is the absence of an apparatus of semiotic capture. In an age of semiotic overload when all the signifiers have been torn free from the previous apparatuses that once captured and bound them into ordered systems of meaning and significance (i.e. Heidegger’s various epochs of Being; Sloterdijk’s macrospheres, etc.), the precise problem now for the artist who finds himself on the outside of Everything is to find and construct new apparatuses that will capture and collect the signifiers, assigning them new places of fixity and meaning, thus neutralizing the dangers of information overload (which tends to have a hollowing effect on the human subject). Read the rest of this entry »

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