Hong Kong is renowned for its striking neon signs which light up the city in multicolour. Owing to new regulations on light pollution and a drive to replace the signs with more modern LED screens, the neon words and images are gradually being turned off and taken down.
M+, Hong Kong’s museum for visual culture, is engaging the city’s residents with one last attempt to preserve and appreciate the art, culture, and history behind the signs. Launching an interactive online exhibition of some of the best examples of the city’s neon signs, M+ is documenting and mapping an iconic part of the city’s streetscape, before it disappears.
The website allows anyone to upload a picture or story about a particular sign in Hong Kong, each entry being placed on a giant interactive map. Over 4,000 photos have so far been uploaded by members of the public to celebrate the vibrant signage system.
The growth of the movement has led to other projects being initiated, with offline programmes such as tours, workshops and talks being born out of the interest in the urban landscape the neon signs create. Photo competitions have similarly drawn people in to the project, with the online platform providing an accessible point of contact for members of the public.
The website also features curatorially-produced essays, videos and slideshows to inform visitors of the various aspects of the neon signs and their significance in the urban landscape. M+’s interactive exhibition will serve as an online preservation of this rapidly disappearing aspect of Hong Kong’s visual culture.