Directed by Alice Arnold • Documentary • 2012 • 58 minutes
New screen-based sign systems are putting TV-style advertising into the public domain in cities around the globe. These electronic signs are re-shaping urban environments and re-defining areas of public space by intensifying the commercialization of the public sphere.
The film's narrator, an observer modeled on the critic Walter Benjamin, takes us on a journey through a variety of urban landscapes, examining public spaces and making connections between light, perception and the culture of attractions in today's consumer society.
The film is structured as a documentary essay in the spirit of city symphony films, and features footage in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities around the world. Also featured are interviews with prominent lighting designers; advertising and marketing professionals; urban sociologists and visual culture experts; and community activists.
"Electric Signs provides an incisive guide to the seductive blight of the increasingly ubiquitous intrusions of public space by blinding private media. The film lucidly unpacks the transformation of the city by this synesthetic tsumami and points to grave dangers ahead."—Michael Sorkin, Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at the City College of New York