Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vintage Googie

A fine example of googie sign architecture on the Interstate 40, in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

Why do we hipster-duffus art director types love googie signs so much?

Well, for me, they represent the essence of what we do for a living. We take a bland project assignment ("make a sign for my bowling alley") and try to elevate it to a clever, unique piece of commercial art. The best examples of googie go a step beyond, elevating utilitarian signs into a kind of screaming, consumerist sculpture.

Sure, googie was tacky. It was far from subtle. But as it disappears from the American landscape, it reminds us how life changed after the interstate highway sytem was built. Though rusty and sun-bleached, googie signage symbolizes our post-war pre-eminence. It's a time that, in retrospect, sadly marks the pinnacle of the American Empire.

It also makes us hope that just maybe, in the far-off future, a few hipster-duffusses might look at the pop culture trash we created, and reckon that it wasn't half bad, after all.

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