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The aesthetic significance of punk subculture and the case study of a korean transformation of punk rock

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2010, 31(), pp.185-211
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : June 30, 2010

Hyosil Yang 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Punk, which emerged among British youth laborers in the 1970s as a historical subculture, displayed the particularities of the spontaneous popular culture through punk rock and punk fashion and is now regarded as an art whose aesthetic emphasis is given to anarchic nihilism. In this study, I will attempt to inquire into the subversive and spontaneous nature of popular culture by analyzing the characteristics of punk. In addition, I will give the Korean indie rock singer ‘Amature Amplifier’ as the exemplification of the Korean transformation of punk rock. As one of the most famous or notorious British punk bands, the Sex Pistols made the most scandalous gestures and wicked acts of raging youths with no future, and their sloppy performances, which consist of chaotic guitar-playing and violent lyrics, revealed the anarchic nihilistic sentiments of young laborers. The aesthetic properties of the punk subculture exemplified by the Sex Pistols are as follows:Punk Rock consciously attaches weight to amateurism and is against the professionalism and commercialism of mainstream rock. A punk guitarist uses three basic chords and prefers the elements of chaos, improvisation and spontaneity to those of rhythm and technicalism. The ethos of punk, ‘anyone can play punk’, is based on the DIY(Do It Yourself) ethic, which is well demonstrated in the low-budget punk rock music magazine, ‘fanzine’. Punk style, which disturbed social symbolic codes, appropriated the juvenile delinquency culture so as to create it as a fashion style. It can be said that punk fashion, aiming at the subversion of normal social values, represents ‘the response of the youth raised in the environment of mass-mediated consumption that forces signs and spectacles to turn against themselves’. Furthermore, punk culture is characterized by the exceeding the determinate definition of a historical subculture, which is well demonstrated by the friendly intervention of intellectuals into punk culture and the enjoyment of punk by middle-class youths. While appropriating the avant-garde strategies of Surrealism and Dada in the early 20th century, punk rock embodies anarchistic nihilism. In other words, punk culture is a popular cultural phenomenon on reflective of how the elements of negation and resistance find their way to the field of styles and institutions in the context of the anti-aesthetic. In this article, I will examine the process of the appropriation of punk rock in the Korean indie music scene by focusing on the musical attitude of Amature Amplifier. Amature Amplifier is from the labor class and yet he does not follow the path of negation and rage against the existing generation unlike the Sex Pistols. Amature Amplifier’s warm and sympathetic attitude toward the marginal life is delivered through slipshod guitar playing and repetitive lyrics. Amature Amplifier mimics the mechanism of a historical subculture and yet is different from it in the respect that he intends to speak for the lives of the weak and the people and to appease their minds while appropriating amateurism, the DIY ethic, and the styles of vagrants and buffoons.

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