Nathan Stang BFA Communication Design Thesis Fall 2014
The Streets Speak: Messaging, Society and Public Space
My thesis project is a series of signs and an accompanying website that celebrates the community, cultures and history of the Boise/Eliot neighborhoods. By interpreting stories from the neighborhood into physical signs, the stories will be given new life. The way the neighborhood came to be, the changes that it has undergone, and the spirit of the people will become a part of the physical makeup of the neighborhood. The aim is for the stories to ignite discussion within the community, to raise awareness of issues and histories, and to bring the community closer to itself. Though the message on each sign is abstracted, a URL painted or printed onto each sign directs people to a website platform where the entire project is explained. In this way, the signs serve multiple functions – they are advertisements for the project, they are public art that is for the people and of the people and they become a part of the typographic dialogue of the streetscape which plays an important role in our creation and understanding of space. This paper aims to explore the role of typography as a means for understanding the community in which it exists. Furthermore, I argue that people shape their environment in part, through the use of messages or signage and the text in turn, plays a role in shaping people as the environment of public space and the textual dialogue of messages are actively coproduced. By researching the types of messages that exist in the street, I map out an organized conversation about these messages – what they are saying and how they interact with the urban environment and how the community feels or interacts with them. Public Space, Media Space and Commercial Spaces and the Urban are two books I use to discuss outdoor advertising and media in relation to public space. Meanwhile, Lee Doreen’s article, ‘Anybody Can Do It’ and the book Written on the City – Graffiti Messages Worldwide examines the subversive public messages of graffiti and street art. Other articles and books support conversations of politics, public space, signs and city culture.