THE NEON MAKERS is in the inaugural issue of HEJ: A Print-Curatorial Project, edited by Dana Kopel and Charlie Tatum.
A few extracts:
What if the first word of creation had been DISCO and the second MASSAGE. Amidst the flames of creation, words crack, but inwards, because the insides of these first letters and words are a vacuum. Shortly after comes the word ELECTROPOP. Then comes FIFTH ELEMENT. Creation’s first attempt at a phrase is also its first spelling mistake.
Most people respond to neon as sign. They don’t know it as a material. They don’t know, for example, that the brightness depends on the diameter of the tube. If you just order neon from a sign maker, you don’t work with this as a creative possibility. Asked for words, everyone says the same: SEX SHOP. MASSAGE. ROUTE 66. To have enough the neon makers add their own, but they have the same imagination. NIGHT CLUB, STRIP JOINT, LAS VEGAS. To try and get something else they write “Ne.” When it is time for everyone to come in and see what they have done, no one notices this. Change, the Neon Makers decide, will have to be more subtle. The next word they write is: KEBAB.
A neon SAFE SEX sign is too late.
When the neon makers point out to everyone the paucity of their imaginations, all the people are ashamed of their words but cross them out differently. For most a single line through or squiggle seems more a form of highlighting than deletion. Occasionally, someone deletes a word to the point of illegibility, which takes a considerable effort. Neon is not, say the Neon Makers. It’s argon. Tell a story.