Monday, February 7, 2011

Sign of the times?

It was never my intention to be the bearer of bad tidings, but I'm afraid somebody has to break the news that the neon sign is on the way out. Advances in LED technology and Electroluminescent (EL) wire are rendering these electronic icons of kitsch obsolete, while their toxic components - such as mercury and argon - and high electricity consumption are raising the collective eyebrows of the environmentally conscious.

Fortunately, New York native and architect Kirsten Hively, is doing something about their impending demise. She is documenting them. Hundreds of them. All around New York City.

With Project Neon, Hively is not only capturing the images of the signs, she is capturing the stories behind them. Attached to every sign is a business, and she goes inside each of one them, making a purchase, and meeting the people that give the signs meaning.

Still, as much as neon signs are an important part of 20th century culture, not everyone is going to miss them:

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