As long-term readers will know I have a bit of an obsession about the neon signage which gives many cities in Asia their unique and seductive streetscapes. The epitome of this has to be Hong Kong where the dense and chaotic texture of its neon have brought the city to life at night since the 1950s.
The night is red, green, yellow, pink and baby blue. There are signs in Chinese. There are signs in English. There are horizontal lines, vertical lines, wavy lines, small circles, half circles, big circles, squares and circles inside squares. The puddles on the street reflect the colours, the letters, the lines and the symbols, as do the bus’s windows.
The West Kowloon Cultural District have recently launched a new online exhibition, NEONSIGNS.HK, dedicated to exploring, mapping and documenting Hong Kong’s neon signs. It’s well worth reading their history of the art form which provides an illuminating (haha) look at how it was first developed, spread around the world, and ultimately faded from view.
They’ve also produced the wonderful short film above which looks at how the signs are made and the sad fact that they’re being supplanted by LED and other, newer technologies, with the craftsmanship behind them slowly being lost.