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Custom Road Signs


The Road Sign Project is a production of Centre3 for Print and Media Arts in Hamilton, Ontario, presented in partnership with Atelier Imago in Moncton, New Brunswick. The two art centres each invited artists to create road signs that incorporated the vernacular and syntax of email and text messaging. The initiative served two goals: to bring awareness of printmaking by presenting art in public space, and to show what was being produced in the studio. The messages were posted in various downtown Hamilton locations and communicated a range of concerns from contemporary art and politics to the pathos of post-industrial urban existence and romantic relationships, which may be contemplated, obeyed or ignored at the viewer’s personal discretion.


Duck! by Hitoko Okada is based on Kaomoji – a Japanese emoticon meaning face marks or face characters. Unlike western emoticons, Kaomoji is viewed horizontally, and is creatively done by punctuations, option keys, kanji, katakana and hiragana characters as well as roman letters. Using a Kaomoji duck on a caution sign, makes a humorous traffic warning for oncoming hazards on life’s unpredictable path when the city and corporation keep passing up the response-ability.


GPS-Free Zone by Mathieu Leger is an ongoing obsession with disseminating one’s location and circumstances as a symptom of the 21st century conditions. It questions how geographic locations affect us and our identities.


I love you by Angele Cormier is an analogical and facetious observation of the life of a 36 year old in-and-out-of-relationship-single-woman. The words and their different meanings are the foundation of the work. The production references the inner dialogue of the individual using the unlikely medium of text messaging, which is ultimately a socially interactive technology.


We Are Here by Will Kwan is a wry commentary on our conception of civic participation in contemporary life. The spectrum of political engagement cited in the work – taken from literature produced by liberal British think-tank – defines the citizen using equal parts caricature and focus group jargon, presenting a portrait of the public that is both prescriptive and vacant.


Three Ladies by Shelly Bahl examines the specificities of global travel for immigrants and tourist. The familiar male and female figures which are universal symbols outside restrooms become ‘other’ with a change in costume. On their own, these signs may be innocuous but when placed together, they create a sense of uncertainty and unease, as informed by our culture of fear.


Resist/Yield by Tor Lukasik-Foss stems from a desire to see municipal signs become more complex, mysterious, contradictory and confusing. The work is designed to encapsulate some of the complexity experienced by an urban zone in transformation. It is meant, in some way, to grant permission for discourse to occur freely.


Watch for Landscape Changes by Matt McInnes presents a stylized version of the signs in close proximity to the work. The orange and black colours and format simulate a highway sign in the ‘temporary road condition’ class. This suggests the landscape’s position as a temporary work in progress, or ongoing ‘construction’.


Untitled by Jean-Denis Boudreau.

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