It’s hard not to think of Hong Kong without visualizing its dazzling display of neon signs that have inspired the futuristic cityscapes of classic science-fiction films such as Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell. With their gradual filtering out, as they are either being replaced with LED screens or removed altogether due to new city regulations regarding light pollution,M+ (Hong Kong's future museum for visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District) has launched NEONSIGNS.HK, an interactive online exhibition that documents, discusses and explores the culture behind the city’s neon signs, the aim of which is to both record and preserve this key feature of the city’s urban landscape.
Taking the form of a website not only because it offers a dynamic crowd-sourcing tool for mapping Hong Kong’s vast number of neon signs, but also because the museum doesn’t actually have a building to house its collections yet, NEONSIGNS.HK is M+ Museum’s seventh ‘mobile’ project. The team Herzog & de Meuron + TFP Farrells is the winner of the international competition to design M+ Museum, set to be completed in 2017. The building overlooking Victoria Harbour will eventually showcase the museum’s permanent collection, which will also include – what else – neon signs salvaged from the streets. So far, the museum has acquired two iconic neon signs in Hong Kong: the neon cow that has hung above the Sammy’s Kitchen steakhouse in Sai Ying Pun since 1977 as well as the Kai Kee Mahjong School rooster neon sign, dating from 1976.
The NEONSIGNS.HK project will run until 30 June 2014, so if you happen to be in Hong Kong, don’t miss the opportunity to contribute to the project by pinning your own photos of your favourite neon signs on the Neon Map! (via Instagram#HKNEON)
Visitors to the NEONSIGNS.HK website can explore its diverse content related to various aspects of the neon-light culture through an array of video documentaries, essays and of course the interactive Neon Map, a tool that allows anyone to add pictures of his or her favourite Hong Kong neon signs. Developed by pill & pillow, who collaborated with gardens&co for its graphic design, the beautifully executed website’s content also features dozens of the signs that have been pinned on its map, including the famous Bank of China Tower, a true Hong Kong landmark, which is particularly impressive. In addition to the above, Aric Chen and Tobias Berger, the project’s curators, have also added offline activities, such as bus tours, workshops and talks.