Neon signs have long been part of Hong Kong’s look. Mostly invisible by day and unremarkable when they are first electrified around twilight, they really come alive when it gets dark. Their warm, colorful, and vibrant glow crowd the streetscape above the bustle below. Unfortunately, they are slowly disappearing because of LED lights.
M+, a group dedicated to preserving Hong Kong’s visual culture, has curated Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK an English and Chinese online interactive exhibition dedicated to Hong Kong’s neon where you can view classic, disappeared signs of yesteryear, noir-ish photographic essay, and design sketches. The project also ponders the role of neon in Hong Kong’s architecture.
Additionally, the exhibition presents two videos:
First, a 12-minute documentary about the decline of neon lights and the under-appreciated detail and craftsmanship behind making them (hanzi, in particular, are difficult to render in neon):
Second, a video by Christopher Doyle, the award-winning cinematographer for many Chinese films including the stylish In the Mood for Love (花樣年華 / 花 年华):
Can you imagine a Hong Kong without neon lights?
Update: Read more about the exhibition in this New York Times review
Image: Flickr user jpvargas, licensed under Creative Commons