Night Bus Tours
- Neon in the Old Days with Cheng Po Hung
- From Street Culture to the Visual Language of Hong Kong’s Signages with Keith Tam and Brian Kwok
Sitting atop an open double-decker bus that travels around both sides of the Victoria Habour, through Yau Tsim Mong, Central and Wan Chai districts, is probably one of the best ways to explore the city’s neon signs up-close. Different guest speakers were invited to lead the two 2-hour bus tours and talk about Hong Kong’s neon signs from the perspectives of local history, advertising design and street culture.
Local history expert, Cheng Po Hung led the tour Neon in the Old Days with an angle that examined the impact of the city’s social and economic development on neon signs. Telling old stories of Hong Kong, Cheng shaded light on the significance of Hong Kong’s unique streetscape as he invited participants to recall their memories of neon signs and compare them with that of the existing streetscape.
The other bus tour, From Street Culture to the Visual Language of Hong Kong’s Signages led by Keith Tam and Brian Kwok from the School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, examined the relationships between shop signages, architecture and urbanism in the city. Their introduction of typography, symbols and other visual elements commonly adapted in neon sign design invited participants to reflect on such visual languages in relation to the changes of Hong Kong’s vernacular street culture.
Neon Beyond Sight
More than 40 visually-impaired participants took part in a night bus tour Neon Beyond Sight, where they first learned about the neon signs in relation to Hong Kong’s urban development from Elson Cheng, Professional Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architectural Conservationists. With the help of mini-neon sign glass tubes and tactile graphics, the participants could further explore the design and structure of neon. The participants then joined a bus tour meandering through the streets of Yau Tsim Mong and Wanchai. They experienced the light and sound of our neon city through the vivid description and engaging explanation of the audio describers. The event was supported by The Hong Kong Society for the Blind and their volunteers.
Family Workshop: City Hunt x Neon Signs @ Hong Kong
Children learned about the making of neon signs and their businesses through role-playing games and acting activities in the family workshop City Hunt x Neon Signs @ Hong Kong. Held on three consecutive Saturdays in May, the workshop was led by instructor from Theatre Noir Foundation, who taught the children basic skills in storytelling and acting while using neon signs and their associated businesses as inspiration to their story plots. Children learned to use their body and facial expression, while also created their own neon sign props for their performances. A specially designed City Hunt Neon Map accompanied the workshop, inviting the parents to go out to the streets with their children and discover unique stories behind the neon signs. Parents joined the last workshop, which ended with cheerful performances of storytelling from the families.
Photography Workshop: Counting Down the Last 10 Years of Neon Signs
“As the number of neon signs dwindle in our city, perhaps it’s time to start counting down its last ten years.” said photographer Lau Ching Ping. At the photography workshop Counting Down the Last 10 Years of Neon Signs, Lau shared with the participants the concept behind his photographic series Vertical Landscape and his fascination about the unique vertical neon signs in Hong Kong. He also explained the photographic techniques in capturing the glow of neon signs in dark environment and demonstrated with 4x5 large format cameras. In the end, the participants explored the Jordan neighbourhood with their cameras, shooting neon signs in the twilight under the guidance of Lau Ching Ping.
Older Adults Workshop: Times of Rainbow
Artist Margaret Chu led the older adults workshop Times of Rainbow for over 40 elderlies. Having learned the design of neon signs of our city at the first part of the workshop, participants created personalized tote bag designs with their names or slogans of their own choice, exploring techniques of writing and drawing with florescent paint. It was followed by a guided bus tour through Sham Shui Po and Yau Tsim Mong, where participants shared with each other their neon stories and enjoyed a close encounter with the glittering neon light in the evening. The workshop was supported by The Neighborhood Advice-Action Council.
Talk: Why Neon Signs?
To further the aim of NEONSIGNS.HK in re-examining neon signs through the lens of visual culture, we invited speakers and experts to talk about the various aspects of neon in the public talk Why Neon Signs. After an introduction of the project by Tobias Berger, Curator of M+, Christoph Ribbat, Professor of American Studies of The University of Paderborn, Germany, presented his research on the development of neon with a focus on its relationship to people and community from a humanist perspective. The other keynote speaker, Keith Tam, Assistant Professor of School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, brought another angle into discussion with his research in design and typography of neon signage in the context of Hong Kong’s vernacular street culture. Moderated by Dr Ng Chun Hung, Associate Professor of Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong, and joined by renowned cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, the panel discussion explored the multi-facets qualities of neon signs and its unique cultural role, as the panelists shared their affection and views on neon as an icon for our city.