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Title: Exploring the visual culture and craftsmanship of Hong Kong neon signs
Authors: Kwok, BSH 
Issue Date: Oct-2019
Abstract: Hong Kong’s unique visual culture and streetscape were made possible with these mesmerising neon tubes, which have been witnessing the development of the city for decades. With stricter and tightened regulations on sign structures, changing business models and increasing market competition with LED lights, the neon sign industry in Hong Kong has now shrunk from its former glory with hundreds of practitioners to now only a dozen.
The project documents the craftsmanship of neon sign making in Hong Kong and analyses the glowing street signs from aesthetics and semiotic perspectives. Extensive and detailed analyses on the visual elements and design of neon signs were made and visualised with information graphics. It is intended to recognise and preserve local culture and heritage through methods such as field trips, on-site observations, interviews and photo documentation. Over 500 high-definition photographs of existed and existing neon signs from Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, Prince Edward and other districts were photo-documented since 2015.
Hong Kong is a city packed with text. Countless signs in various forms overlap and intersect, weaving a unique cityscape. While these signs are familiar to the public, their nuances often go unnoticed. Faced with rapid urban development and tightening signage regulations, however, many characteristic shop signs in Hong Kong have disappeared, taking along with them traditions of calligraphy, aesthetics, design and craftsmanship.
The second aim of the project is to preserve and conduct research on the art of signage script found in Hong Kong streetscape. More importantly, it encourages the public to discover and experience the beauty of Hong Kong signs.
Rights: All rights reserved.
Posted with permission of the author.
Appears in Collections:Design Research Portfolio

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