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EMAIL: info [at] graphicambient [dot] com
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INFO: An archive of environmental graphics, wayfinding systems, signage, murals and graphic interventions.
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EMAIL: info [at] graphicambient [dot] com
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Neon Lane, Australia

by Craig & Karl
2011
 
 

Located at the gateway to Melbourne’s bustling Chinatown, ‘Neon Lane’ is a permanent art installation that transforms a disused laneway into a bright, electric, mesmerising destination celebrating the cultural diversity of the city. Inspired by the colourful chaos of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore, ‘Neon Lane’ fuses the energy of Mong Kok and the flashing lights of Shinjuku with the playfulness of Melbourne’s laneway culture.
 
 
Design and illustration duo Craig & Karl were engaged to imagine 60 neon lights and light boxes, ranging in size from 80cm to five metres tall, that deliver a contemporary, pop-infused take on Asian culture. Their objective was to create designs that reflect points of collision and disjuncture between the two cultures. Traditional symbols have been reinterpreted and ancient proverbs given new context. Interspersed with these are delightfully random, and occasionally absurd, slogans like ‘Let’s dance’ and ‘Mysterious bubble tea’, expressed in five different languages – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai. The duo arrived at each translation by simply feeding English phrases into Google Translate and transcribing the results verbatim.
 
 
“Whilst our intention was to represent each sentiment as faithfully as possible, we also readily courted the mistakes or gaps in comprehension that were liable to occur as a result of this method. It seemed perfectly natural that, as Western designers reinterpreting Asian culture, some elements would become lost in translation, so we actively wanted to make that part of the work. We liked the idea of taking the notion of ‘Engrish’, which documents unusual forms of English language, and reversing the roles so that a native speaker of any of these languages may look upon a sign and wonder with bemusement how we ended up there,” explains Karl Maier, one half of Craig & Karl.

 
 
Photos
Scottie Cameron
 
 
Links
www.craigandkarl.com

All photos and text are property of Project Authors unless stated otherwise.