Signature and Brand
Source TitleHigh-Pop: making culture into public entertainment
University of Melbourne Author/sFrow, John
AffiliationCulture And Communication
CitationsFROW, J. (2002). Signature and Brand. Collins, J (Ed.). High-Pop: making culture into public entertainment, (1), pp.56-74. Blackwell Publishers.
Access StatusOpen Access
Deposited with permission of Blackwell Publishing.
My black T-shirt from the Art Institute of Chicago carries the signatures of 69 dead Masters, from Rembrandt through a full squad of Impressionists to Chagall and Magritte. The format is that of the football or bat signed by the team, and this is part of the joke: this is the Institute’s team, and these are the team’s "real" signatures, in the sense that they faithfully reproduce the form of the holographs on the canvases that the Institute holds; the signatures bear witness, like a list of names on a testimonial, to the value of the collection. But since they are facsimiles, and since they have been first radically decontextualized and then reassembled in unlikely juxtaposition, they are mentions rather than uses, stripped of their function and performative force. They refer not to the person of the artist who made the work which they authenticate, but to the system of signatures which organizes both the aesthetic and the monetary value of works of art. In this chapter I examine some of the features of this system and contrast it with another, that of the brand name, by which it has to a certain extent been displaced; my argument is that there is now something of a convergence between, on the one hand, the commercial branding of aesthetic goods and, on the other, the aesthetic valorization of commercial goods. In order to analyze these overlapping and contrasting systems, however, I need to make a prior argument about the nature of information and the property rights which have come to subsist in it.
KeywordsCultural Theory; Studies in Human Society
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