Kool London at the Royal Academy — DJing as art?


What is art? The Mona Lisa? A photograph? Or an unmade bed? Or can DJs and emcees be considered art too? The Royal Academy of Arts in London certainly did when they asked Kool London to “exhibit” in 2013.

Some context — Kool London started as underground Jungle station Kool FM back in 1991. And after going legal back in 2008, the website broadcasts 24/7 and has a growing archive of shows.

kool london art royal academy
Kool London make the booth a work of art at the Royal Academy of Art.

Is DJing art?

This is an old video that I’ve just seen for the first time, but it has made me think about the classification of DJing. I’ve looked up many different definitions but most can be interpreted to show that just about anything can be art. But this is Google’s definition:

“the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

…which I guess pretty accurately sums up DJs and emcees vibing off of each other to make a creative aural and visual performance right?

Traditionally, people would just dance to DJs. But the whole performance element is growing all the time, to the point where people stop dancing and start looking instead — which traditionally is what we do with art. See what I mean? It’s easy to define what we do as art, especially when we bring together raw materials to paint a picture with beats, or hew an audio sculpture with rhymes.

What about you? Do you see yourself as an artist?