Sunday, October 24, 2010

Signs of Montréal (August, 2005)

I've always really enjoyed looking at signs, at boring at that may seem. It's like my supermarket fetish, where every time I go overseas I look forward to seeing what's available in the average local grocer... food touristing. Except with signs you get this impression of whatever was thought to convey a particular message most effectively--generally in a simple graphic without words.

Here, I've posted several signs from Montréal--none of which counts as exotic since I looked at them regularly during the three years I spent living there. They never stopped seeming a bit surreal, though, especially the one I called Electrocution Man:

What always "got" me about Electrocution Man, whom I saw almost every day (a copy of this sign was in the Métro Mont-Royal, near where I lived), was that his designers hadn't been content to zap him through the torso with what appears to be a large ragged edged weapon of some sort; oh no. They gave him a face (zoom in!), a face that has a remarkable amount of expressive power for such a crude rendering in plastic profile; and that leaning posture only adds to the effect. Shudder.

The sign above--"Danger"--was attached to one of the old buildings belonging to McGill, near the downtown foot of Mont-Royal (I think this might be 3674 des Pins Ouest). In case you're wondering, that's not a little man walking under a strangely sloping tree that happens to be dripping on his head and casting a shadow to the east. In fact it's a warning that large, sodden piles of snow barbed with icicles may slide down the overhanging roof and onto your head... so don't walk this way. Creative!

Lastly, "Prudence! Ne prenez pas de chance" was at Métro Université de Montréal, if memory serves. I thought it was a funny and appropriate message... "it's better to be waiting for the next bus than for an ambulance"! Since in the past I'd seen people literally bowling over other passengers in their haste to reach the bus/subway platform, I've often wondered if the signs have had any effect.

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