Thursday, January 22, 2009

Upcoming Projects

This year will be an exciting year for my blog. In addition to my usual photo tours involving still images of lit signs, I want to do some video projects, perhaps a whole video production involving neon signs in the capital city. I also have planned a few different type photo tours. Back when I started this blog, my aim was to capture the artistic beauty of neon signs, specifically the neon tubing itself, mostly in it's lit up form. Of course, that is the basic aim of neon signage, to advertise XXX (insert almost any noun or even verb) in dim or lowlight environments. I have found though that the actual sign itself, not limited to the lit up gas in glass, is often times also a work of art, especially those dating to midcentury. I have already done a few such posts which deviate from my default norm (still images of lit up signs taken at night), and those type posts will actually increase throughout the course of this year. I have captured over six hundred images of lit up neon of all types, ranging from the usual and ordinary to the extraordinary and brilliant (think blue and red "open" signs vs. Peking Dynasty..and everything in between). But I also need to include, if I am going to be true to the spirit of neon as art AND function, those which may no longer grace our cityscape with light. An example was my "in memoriam" post last fall, which showcased a few examples of dark neon, or neon signs which still exist in physical form, but for whatever reason are no longer actively used for non-daylight advertising. There are yet other categories of neon signs which I have yet to cover, and of course, would violate my rules stated when I started this blog (evolution is good of course, right?).

Ghost neon, is arguably one of the three categories of neon signage found in urban environs such as Columbus; the others being "active neon" and "dark" or "dead" neon. Like active neon seen on any given evening, examples can be found in the city, in the suburbs, and in ruralia. Ghost neon is basically a neon sign which has had it's neon tubing removed, either purposely or through years of weather extremes, pollution, vandalism, or other wear and tear. When done purposely, it usually is removed by a new owner or operator of a business so that a new sign may be retrofitted over the usually much older neon installation. Most of the time, the original business which installed the neon sign has been long gone. On occasion, an original owner or operator of a business may remove neon tubing just to do it (also known as "save money by switching to plain white lighting or LEDs"), or on rare occasions, for safety concerns. While like I said it can be found anywhere, ghost neon abounds in older urban neighborhoods, often in areas which economic conditions fluctuate greatly. In Columbus, the near east side..the west side..and urban south side. I live in an area now which has relatively healthy neon installations (German Village/Brewery), but I am not far at all from probably the most ghostly area of the city for neon. The south side has a LOT of ghost neon. I intend on doing a daytime tour of Parsons, South High, Lockboune..and capture some of the ghosts of neon past. Here is an example of ghost neon, taken in December on Parsons Avenue:
It may be hard to tell from that photo, but one can tell ghost neon from the round holes on certain parts of the sign which housed the neon tubing which covered the signs' facade. Lots of examples like this exist on this side of town. Definitely makes you think about just how neon saturated this area must have been on a cool evening fifty years ago. Yes, most ghost neon signs are VERY old, dating to pre-1960. I can't wait to start this tour, perhaps even today if possible.

Also coming up, like I mentioned, the beer project. I am not sure what the details will be, but basically, I am going to spend one entire day covering one of neon's greatest champions: beer. Beer has to be one of the top two or three uses of neon advertising, especially when one considers just how much neon is used for outdoor, as well as indoor art and advertising inside drinking establishments. Being a fan of both neon and beer, I will combine two of my loves. I have yet to go neoning while intoxicated, so maybe another first is about due?! I will have my walking shoes on for that tour. I am not sure if I will just post stills on blog post; perhaps slideshow form is what I am considering. Similar to the original slide show I did way back when I started this. This country does not have a 'national beer day' like Iceland and Germany do, unfortunately. We have lots of candidates which already function as beer day, like St. Patty's, Cinco de Mayo, New Year's Eve, Christmas..etc..but I want to designate a day for beer, not corrupt another holiday. So possibly a day late this month, or in February or March, when not much else is going on. Psychologists who have studied seasonal affective disorder (appropriately acronymed as SAD) have suggested that January 24 is the bleakest day of the year in North America. Perhaps this weekend I should start my beer project? We shall see!

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