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Our neon future?

Neon is the tone and color of the future. Even the noir tendencies of cyberpunk and the Bladerunner aesthetic offered a vision of a mass culture gone wild and big big big! The antecedent of this aesthetic can be found in Times Square and Hollywood, and, of course, in Japan. Indeed, one might say we almost fetishize Japan’s culture of public advertising and glowing light. The latest example of Nipponofile neon fetishism was last week’s Internet fad: Hollywood director McG recently made a video starring Kirsten Dunst in an anime get-up dancing around Tokyo’s Akihabara district. (The video has been taken down from most sites due to a copyright claim, which is just as well as Dunst cannot sing at all.) But here’s a neat Creative Commons photo from flickr to give you a taste of the neighborhood:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/keitaro/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

And yet, there is another possibility for the future. São Paulo, Brazil recently eliminated most of its outdoor advertisements. This YouTube video gives us a good look at the city that once lived under an exoskeleton of what some call “visual pollution”:

Will this catch on? In Vermont, there is a law against billboards, though a few have been grandfathered in. When I lived in Brattleboro, a local drug store had and even occasionally touched up an ancient advertisement for Carter’s Little Liver Pills (not recommended for the liver since 1951):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenmama/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

So, what will the future be like? São Paulo, Tokyo’s Akihabara district, or a four-stoplight “city” in Vermont? Probably a bit of each. But what future would you prefer to live in?

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