I saw the sign

This is a billboard for the Ed Ruscha exhibition currently on show at the Hayward Gallery – it’s basically a scaled up version of a Ruscha work which is basically, if we’re boiling everything down like grumpy philistines, some words smartly arranged. A sign, if you will.

Some of the most interesting street photography draws out the absurd in how people react to the signs that are meant to impose some form of control on the randomness of anonymous crowds – folk smoking by NO SMOKING signs, that sort of thing. And there are the signs that are incidental but still intrigue – away from photography I’ve always been impressed by the low price of cigars in Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.

Over on flickr there are whole groups dedicated to the snapping of signs. Obviously for me the ones in English work better – more directly – than the ones where I need to get the babelfish out. Individually I like the work of former Chesham resident lowrevolution who catalogues Americana as revealed in its secular and religious signposting.

And of course there’s Ed Ruscha bringing together words and pictures. Drawing our attention to the banal signposting of everyday life. And doing it beautifully.

See this photo large here.


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