A photo collection assembled by Michele Wambaugh
Artist’s Statement www.michelewambaugh.com © 2011 Michele Wambaugh World Signage “The medium is the message,” Marshall McLuhan, 1964 Signage or billboards of some sort have been part of the urban scene for all of civilized history, even before Rome. Utilizing our basic needs, desires and fears, worldwide advertising industries try to persuade us to buy various products. Ever new images, icons, catchy phrases are being created to lure those to part with their money. In the 1950’s Americans saw the billboard spread across the landscape. Some may still recall the one-per-mile Burma Shave ads that engaged bored car passengers across grassy prairies. Today Signage are ubiquitous but they vary from country to country and even between provinces. Everywhere modern mankind looks, there is signage hawking something. We try to ignore these appeals as we cruise along the roads. But what if we took another look? Often ads illustrate middle or upper class life so that a product is equated with a certain status. Or a perfect, hyper-reality might be depicted. Wambaugh likes to photograph signs in foreign countries: India, China, Mexico and Europe juxtaposed against the ironies or hilarity of gritty life. Besides dividing the Signage Series by country, Wambaugh has divided it into two loose categories or sub-groups: 1. Movie and other Billboards 2. Street Intersections with Signage In this playful series, it is her hope that the public puts its own spin on the juxtaposition of a sign to its environment and asks questions. Here are hers: are there really “universal” ad symbols? Do ads in different countries illustrate what that society actually values? What is the color palette like in Europe compared to say India or USA? What different kinds of emotions do the advertisers try to illicit in France, Italy, India? How westernized is signage in eastern countries? Someday in the future, Wambaugh hopes to have some definitive answers to these compelling questions by collaborating with some in the advertising industry. Exhibited: 2006 Con(Text), Koelsch Galley, Houston, Texas 2008 Retrospective: Photographs 1978-2008, CICCC, Beijing, CHINA
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