Banksy – Napalm (2004) Limited edition Print
20 x 28 in | 51 x 71 cm
A beautiful perspective on the cynical side of human beings, simply quoted in a few words. “People are taking the piss out of you every day. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you are not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV, making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are the advertisers and they are laughing at you”, by Banksy 2005, p.31)
British graffiti artist, known as Banksy, entertains the world with his works, engaging and expressing political agendas and beliefs into his art in an imaginative way, displaying his views and opinions for all to see and interpret. The general public rarely get exposed to the works of artists and their viewpoints, Banksy’s choice of medium, mainly graffiti, sprayed utilizing common public spaces, such as walls, buildings and streets around London, screen-prints etc., displaying persuasive political messages that are subsequently immerged within the artworks. Banksy is more influential upon the general population than traditional artists and other graffiti artists, because as his creative designs are placed in public spaces they grasp the public’s attention more effectively than a traditional painting, and his political messages gain attention and exposure.
Graffiti, the tagging of property without the permission of property owners, is a crime. Tagging has been the most common form graffiti for the last decade. While the label is often applied generically, those are involved in graffiti scene of city identity. A number of different names of various style of graffiti currently in use. Research evidence strongly supports that the urban decay graffiti ...
The main issues Banksy addresses are capitalism, war, poverty and governments, normally controversial in nature, that are humorous, which some artists lack or imply a blunt messages, that engage the public in thought, in some cases cause a change. Keeping his identity secret has made him popular and famous worldwide with a cult of followers, taking and exposing street art to a new level.
The powerful image I have used above titled “Napalm”, when visually analysed, portrays two iconic figures from Western culture, holding a distraught young Asian girl. The colours are not intense, but the subtle use of pale yellow on a grayscale back ground, emphasizes the iconic colours of the world widely known figures, Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. At first glance and viewing as “disinterested”, my eyes were drawn to the cheerful yet sinister like smiles of both Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald, grabbing the young Asian girl, whom we can clearly see is nude, either struck by poverty, fear, anger but most of all a deep sense of sadness. The alter way of portraying this could the sense of opportunity, influenced by western culture, to the innocent child, away from misfortune and political suffering.
The frames for analysis used for the image above are semiotics, tied up with Marxism and Visual culture, many frames can be used to analyse this image, such as aesthetics and Ideology, but the prior frames shall be discussed first.
To discuss Semiotics, I have gathered reading philosophical articles and principles of Fernand De Saussure, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Lacan, to name a few, explaining; semiotics is basically the translation of a picture such as the image above into words it’s the study of Signs. Theories and terms are fragments of visual communication that are derived from linguistics, which is defined as the study of language and from semiotics, the theory of signs. Odours, Words, sounds, images, flavours, actions or even objects are form of Signs. But as they stand alone they have no meaning and only turn into signs as we give meaning to them. There are no definite meanings or conclusions to semiotic theories, but over time semiotics is being repeatedly reviewed and developed to become more accurate and gradually incline the significance of the information, when most of these theories are applied to art works. Over the last few centuries, art consumers have become articulate in reading images making them sophisticated readers of signals and signs, subconsciously decoding compositions in works of art. Everything today that surrounds us, even our identities are all manipulated and moulded by words, texts, signs, images and our visual lingo.
Communication In the Millenium: 2000 and Beyond The Year 2000. The Millenium. With these phrases come the thoughts of the future and futuristic living. Although the lifestyle of the Jetson s, with moon shot apartment complexes and flying cars, is more science fiction and entertainment than science fact, how many of their fantasy inventions might someday be a fact? With the new century less than 3 ...
Most pictures give out a meaning, in some cases its intensions have more than one meaning; conventional and arbitrary and even visual and symbolic. It is normally thought of as language related to pictures, to convey straight forward and transparent interpretations, but the visual language is more than what meets the eye. It is an expression of deeper thoughts, emotion and even ambiguous ideas. Hence visual expression needs to be linguistically explained in order to tidy up the unnecessary meaning. For example, advertisements viewed via TV or any other form of visual medium; there are always texts that accompany the picture, in order to help interpret the meaning.
Thus through semiotics of images and pictures in works of Art, a verbal and non-verbal community is formed. It is believed that the production and interpretation of signs depends on the existence of codes or conventions for communication. The meaning of sign depends on the code in which it is situated, codes provide us a framework. This defines structuralism, which focuses on the underlying structures of human behaviour and society. These infinite readings of texts and signs are only limited to cultural and society.
Language is an essential part of human life; the use of it comes in many forms and primarily used to deliver messages to other people. The form of communication can be divided into two types, verbal communication and non-verbal communication. Graffiti is one way of communication using non-verbal communication. Since graffiti is an activity of drawing pictures in walls, we can say that in graffiti, we definitely find many signs within. The purpose of graffiti artist, such as Banksy and others, is to deliver their messages though their signs that they create through the wall.
CHAPTER II NATURE AND SCOPE OF SOCIOLOGY OBJECTIVES: • Define sociology. • Discuss the development of sociology. • Identify different methods of sociology. • Give the importance of sociology. Lesson 1. Sociology as Science Sociology • What is Sociology? Sociology is the scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture. The term sociology was ...
For example in “Napalm”, not being influenced much on the background of the above picture, or Banksy’s intension, I perceived the image as Western Culture forcibly backsliding ads to kids, with the use of toy give-aways and movie tie-ins to appeal youngsters, threatening the culture of Asia with the use of apparel, exposing Asia to obesity and fast food culture. Kids nowadays are constantly given exposure to advertising, even though the bureau and industry has avoided in the past exploiting to immature consumers, overtime intensions have changed. The use of well-known mediated iconic figures who are Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald, celebrities in their own way and fictional characters, who lure the younger generation, encouraging them to purchase and overly consume fast food excessively.
The rapid inclination of Western fast food chains among young people in China, Japan and other Asian countries, has contributed to its increased consumption.
A research study shows a survey done with children, that 96 per cent of children recognize Ronald McDonald, making him the second most identifiable fictional character after Santa Claus.
Although many fast food chains spend billions on advertising and marketing, what separates McDonalds’ to be a leading competitor is its ability to provide playgrounds, targeting families to spend their breaks and weekends, who bring in children, who in turn bring in Money. But, what the key move the giant food franchise has made is its alliance with Walt Disney. Luring children to consume unhealthy options, in order to open their free winning prize, the Disney toy give-way, at the end of the day. Maybe many Asian countries will understand the recent links between health and the Western-style diet and begin to reconsider the idealized image of American fast food.
The reasons given to show the negligence of giant companies to what affects it plays the world such as the mentioned on going issues, is explicable in Marxist terms to increase their capitalisation by whatever means necessary as fits, mass producing processed foods and using advertising gimmicks to lure the gullible, yet in spite of all this, hypocorism is well played in our society and within Banksy himself, when he rebels and outlines the everyday issue of our society, a yet big screen hit himself.
1. To try to explain how and why aesthetics is understood, as a philosophical endeavor should first start with what I think and feel through my learning experiences what is art. Art for me is what is pure about the art form and what makes it beautiful. Beauty in art is what enhances individual senses to makes us feel all our senses are united as one. When these traits come together you are in ...
Most of Banksy’s works sell out double the initial estimated price. The Print image, “Napalm”, as shown above, costs a staggering $37,500. It’s also noted that even his copies sell, found in online sites, such as the Stencil Revolution’s Banksy Art Vault, (SRBAV), all for profit. Most of his work is purchased not because they are done by a famous modern graffiti artist; there is no value in that concept. The humour and the message used is exactly what make these valuable as decorative displays in our homes and work environments. The colourful and controversial history of both the artist himself, whose identity is secret and his work are indeed great conversation starters. The aesthetic taste of our society based today has indeed splattered the artist’s intensions. Not that any artist wouldn’t mind capitalizing on works or mass producing them via prints, they need to survive in this economic and globalized world too. But society does uplift and want the tasteful controversial things, no matter how much it’s valued or institutionalized as kitsch works of art.
Using other frames, in “Napalm”, there is a visual rhetoric, which speaks of consumer culture, clearly emphasizing on the consumption than on, production of goods. Banksy manipulates the aesthetics and ideology at the moment of consumer capitalism and democratic idealism, a clever play of Banksy, where he assaults the viewers’ via the interplay of aesthetics and Ideology. Aesthetics has gone under many philosophical changes over the past centuries, Immanuel Kant being most influential, states the judgment of aesthetics relies on two features, Beauty and Sublime. Such judgements must have a particular freedom and disinterestedness and must have certain formal conditions. Today however, the idea of aesthetics moves away that beauty only resides on particular objects, where we no longer think beauty as universally accepted set of qualities. Leading towards the contemporary concepts of aesthetics emphasize the criteria of what is beautiful and what is not is based on taste, which is not innate but rather culturally specific.
So what is worthy or unworthy in art society today? The distinction between the two is echoed between images constructed for fine art for those constructed for popular culture, so in other terms high versus low culture. In post-modern terms, Mathew Rampley states, that culture signifies not merely the process of individual and social development, but it’s also the things a society has produced, which in turn “create a complex network of social expectations and values”(Rampley, p.10).
Kings County, Calif. West Hills Community College POP ART Art Appreciation 52 CONTENTS. POP ART 4 II. ANDY WARHOL 5 III. DAVID HOCKNEY 7 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 1. Illustration 1: Roy Lichtenstein, Wham m! , Cover 2. Illustration 2: Andy Warhol, Campbell Soup Can 63. Illustration 3 David Hockney, A Bigger Splash 7 POP ART Art in which everyday objects and subjects are depicted with the flat ...
In “Napalm”, Banksy brings out the symbolic inversions by means of aesthetic juxtaposition of good and evil, with the merge of consumer capitalism and democratic idealism. The cynical smiling corporate mascots represent the ideological site of excessiveness, associated with innocence, meaning the nude girl. These corporate logos are inverted and the gesture of them holding hands with the embodiment of the destructive effects of warfare. This image portrays symbolic of anti-democratic ideals, through the young girl, as she holds the hands of Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald, who become her accomplices. This is further inclined by the overlap of Banksy’s ideology and aesthetics choices. The aesthetics of this image, black and white, cartoon and realistic, it basically cause our eyes are physiologically capable of seeing. The mouse and clown ideologically symbolize an agreeable or unified experience whereas the nude girl represents torment. Both Mickey mouse and McDonald have the “happy” slogans on their themed parks. In Disneyland it’s known as the “happiest place on Earth”, whereas McDonald incorporates the Ideology with a smile, that’s says, “I’m Loving it”. Juxtaposing Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald presents hints of happiness, excessiveness and greed, with the image of the nude girl, whom symbolizes the evils on conflict and warfare. Thus these characters no longer represent the joys and innocence of life but instead hold the hands of evil.
Is this the exact response Banksy’s intention was? Is he trying to point humorously what could this result in, or just making us aware of what’s exactly going on that we fail to see. WHY? Is it because we are too ignorant? We are bathed with mediated signs and texts and oblivious to that capitalizing and economical paradigm shift. Through aspects of visual culture, is this how we see and are able to see or made to see, or is it culturally constructed ideologies. These indeed create a response to the viewer, via the use of aesthetics, a visual rhetoric comment of the world.
A sign system is representation through communication which in turn leads to a shared meaning or understanding. We hold mental representations that classify and organise the world (whether fact or fiction), people, objects and events into meaningful categories so that we can meaningfully comprehend the world. The media use sign systems through newspapers, magazines, television,internet, and the ...
(Photographer, Nick Ut, June 8, 1972)
Findings based on the image “Napalm”, this Photograph actually shows the image of a 9 year-old-girl Vietnamese girl running nude through the streets as a result of the Vietnam War, after it was attacked in a Napalm blast. The photographer shot this moment of violence and despair and memorialized it, for the whole world to see. It seems like Banksy, is commenting on how other countries and their cultures portray at Americans, and how we see ourselves, in addition of how America views itself through the eyes of others. The image was printed large, commenting on how the dispute of American consumerism versus the world outside should be viewed, a punt at America and todays capitalist society. Appropriated and mass reproduced, to hint at America’s consumerism and Pop culture. In addition it not only points out the cruelty and affects, America had on the people of Vietnam, during the war, but based on current affair of what is happening around the world today, such as outsourcing jobs and labour, where most of Western products are, outsourced and is still made in Asia than in their own soil. Lately based on our economic global crises, this very image has been reproduced all over, and used on mugs, T-shirts etc.
The concepts used semiotics, Marxism, aesthetics tied-up with Ideology and visual culture, are powerful philosophies that help us to relate to Banksy’s work, “Napalm” and point a powerful message, highlighting our society and its taste in nature. Art has no definite conclusions, no matter what the artist had intended his or her viewers to see or participate, its open to anyone. There no conclusions as to what should be the right answer to interpret an image or work of art. These frames only help us to bring out the bigger picture, but not all frames can be used to analyse any picture. The mentioned frames are useful to comment on the trend and issues of our society.
* Anne D’Alleva’s, Methods and Theories of Art History, (Laurence King Publishing), 2012.
* Banksy, Cut it out: Weapons of Mass Distraction, (2005), p.31.
* Marc Leverton, Banksy myths and legends: a collection of the unbelievable and incredible/ collected by Marc Leverton, (Darlington: Carpet Bombing Culture, 2011)
* Mathew Rampley, Visual culture and the meanings of culture/ Edited by Mathew Rampley, Exploring visual culture: Definitions, concepts, contexts. (Edinburg, Scotland: Edinburg University Press), p. 10.
* Paul Duncum, Ted Bracey, On knowing : Art and Visual Culture/ edited by Paul Duncum and Ted Bracey, (Published Christchurch, NZ: Canterbury University Press, 2001)
* Berel Lang, Forest Williams, Marxism and Art; Writings in Aesthetics and Criticism, edited by Berel Lang and Forest Williams, ( Published – New York, McKay, 1992)
* Jackson Barry,1926, Art, Culture and the Semiotics of Meaning: Cultures changing signs of life in poetry, drama, painting and sculpture/ Edited by Jackson Barry, (Published- New York: St Martin’s Press, c 1999)
Figure 1 and 2 – Napalm (2004) Google Search: “Banksy Napalm”