August 07, 2011

Artistic road signs in Milan

It seems road signs in Milan are having a makeover and the result is quite amusing I would say..img_0247.jpg

This is however not an avant-garde initiative by the recently elected new mayor but the work of Clet Abraham, a French -born street artist, now based in Florence.

From a technical point of view the works are very simple, in the sense that they consist of just a sticker added to the original signs. The artistic intervention is not so overt but rather quite sober as it matches the communication style already adopted for road signs.

If you look at the picture on the right, you may notice that the man has actually been done in the 'matchstick style' used regularly to represent men in road signs. Hence, the sign does not come across as something utterly out of place. The viewer is then encouraged to 'accept' it as a sign communicating something important, which is actually the function of road signs.

The key aspect is the new meaning signs acquire. In addition to regulating our behaviour on the street by stating what we can and can't do, artistically-enhanced signs convey also an amusing message.

I think the original and the new message remain clear simultaneously. Hence I'm confident drivers can still interpreter the 'official message' of the sign without any risk for road safety.

Unfortunately, I also expect these signs to revert to their original aspect shortly since concerns for safety and legal aspects will inevitably have priority.


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