SIGNAL / NOISE: AMBIENT TEXT IN THE URBAN LANDSCAPE
This project explores the wide range of ways that people write onto the surfaces of the city. It is a documentation of tactics of marking and signaling through varied modes of address, points of information, and forms of expression that materialize through text. These tactics range from highly formal lettering to rapid scrawls, artistic flourishes to utilitarian announcements, legally posted signage to fugitive scrawls, incised characters to collagraphic collages. They may be written onto a substrate and affixed to a building, or they may be applied directly to the surface. In all cases, they charge the architecture and infrastructure of the city to carry additional meaning, to provide single boosting power, to call out to the world around.
While such texts are abundant, even ubiquitous in some cities, occasionally they emerge out of the background noise of everyday life. Those included here have, in one way or another, exceeded themselves, pushed beyond the amplitude of their signal to reveal something more, or perhaps even less, about the city around them. These might be texts set in distinct, isolated spaces or entangled through collision or saturation where meanings are contested, negotiated, or unstable. Here and there I have manipulated the image by desaturation and selective re-addition of color, or by cropping, sharpening, or white balance shifting. In the end, the photographs reveal the surface of the city as a great palimpsest inscribed and re-inscribed with spatial, architectural, and textual meaning.
Featured in Jane Rendell's Site Writing Quarterly, Works in Progress, Winter 2022.