The Logo Cities symposium might be over and done with but the Logo Cities website lives on. It contains a wealth of fascinating information on signage and commercial logos in cities around the world. A good introduction is the short comic strip “City Stars,” pictured above and created by Grant Collins, one of the research assistants employed by project creator Matt Soar. A variety of papers presented at the May symposium are also available online.
What’s new is Almost Architecture, an interactive film about highrise signs in Montreal that is worth a look despite a frustrating interface. It opens with a clip of the now-famous Farine Five Roses sign on Montreal’s waterfront, the potential dismantling of which did a lot to bring attention to the issue of historic signs in the city. From there, the film goes on to feature interviews from local experts like signmaker Bill Kovacevic, who talks about the tension between architects and the signs that festoon their buildings: it detracts from the “purity” of their architecture, he says.
I got a sense of that last fall when I spoke with Derek Drummond, a professor of architecture at McGill University, about Montreal’s ghost signs. He dismissed them outright, arguing that their cultural, historical and aesthetic importance was negligible. Ultimately, he said, they distract from what’s more important: architecture. “I find it really hard to get emotionally connected to any sign of any sort,” he says in Almost Architecture. Although I can certainly understand why he feels this way, I can’t help but disagree. The urban experience draws from more than just architecture; all of the seemingly superfluous stuff, like signs, tell us just as much about the life of the city.
Tags: Montreal, Signs