A neon sign begins and ends with a line, or more precisely, a tube of gas-filled glass heated by skilled craftsmen and lit by an electric charge. The line can transform once illuminated. It glows and flickers and mimics and abstracts. Its symbols, signs, and texts are a living language for the modern city.
M+ was established with a mandate that encompasses visual art, design, architecture, and moving images. It began acquiring neon signs from Hong Kong’s streets. The intention draws less from sentimentality–though the nostalgic power of these fast-disappearing urban fixtures is both undeniable and consequential–than a recognition that neon signs present a compelling case study for a multidisciplinary museum, rooted in the neon city of Hong Kong, whose overarching theme is “visual culture.”
The intention is less about sentimentality… but more about the recognition that neon signs are a compelling case study to build a multidisciplinary museum rooted in Hong Kong’s neon city. Its overarching theme, “visual culture,” is what drives it.
Visual culture is simply a collection of diverse disciplines that combines information, images, and meanings from the visual environment. Neon signs are especially difficult to miss in Hong Kong. They can communicate typography, illustration, and graphic design in their own right. However, their technological mediums can also limit their ability and control them. It is misleading to say that they are the work of real creators, intentions, and processes. However, this is also making them increasingly insignificant in an age where authorship is blurring through the tools of visual culture (think about the internet). Because neon signs are adapted in photography, visual arts, cinema, and so on, they have become a symbol of all modernity’s contradictions. They embody the glamour and grit as well as the confidence and fragility of modernity. Neon signs can both assign meanings and assume these meanings. They are at the osmotic intersection between medium, message, and viewer, which is the most fertile area of visual culture.
Neon signs can both assign meanings to them and assume them. This is how they are at the osmotic intersection of medium, message, and viewer.
Neon signs for sale were a popular visual language in the 20th century. However, LEDs and other newer technologies are replacing them. This project, which is dedicated to neon signs and digital screens, might seem paradoxical. But neon has been a craft that was born out of the industry. Perhaps it’s because it’s anachronistic that LED neon signs may still live on.