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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2020

The New Semiotics of Advertising in Italian and Russian Futurism

From the book Volume 9 2019
Olga Sokolova


This essay analyses the features of a new semiotic system and of a new language in advertisements and political texts issued by the Italian and Russian Futurists. My semiotic approach reveals the avant-garde’s intention to ‘destroy’ the sign and to undermine the traditional relationship between the signified and the signifier, as well as the avant-garde’s tendency to reject symbolical representation in favour of iconical and indexical types of representation. The Futurists’ special interest in advertising reflects their orientation towards overcoming the border between art and reality, and to break down the delineations between a sign and an object of reality. Commercial advertising, political agitation and revolutionary propaganda offered Futurist artists an opportunity for creating new realities. This essay identifies the main features of ‘contamination’ as a form of interaction between avant-garde and advertising discourses, such as creating new hybrid genres and text forms. It examines how the Futurists applied avant-garde linguistic tools, such as defamiliarization, neologisms and multimodality, to political and advertising discourses, and how they used avant-garde communicative strategies in their advertising texts. Furthermore, this essay examines the use of onomatopoeia and ‘telegraphic’ syntax as the iconical type of representation; it discusses the shift from iconical to indexical signification that can be found in advertising posters. Thereby I show how hybrid texts and new multimodal media operated with a combination of iconical and indexical modes of representation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston