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Logo Cities: symposium

Logo Cities: An International Symposium on Signage, Branding, and Lettering in Public Space

Concordia University, Montréal May 4-5, 2007

Keynote: Dr. Johanna Drucker (Robertson Professor of Media Studies, University of Virginia)


Cities are awash in 'public lettering': street signs, newspaper mastheads, road signs, high-rise corporate logos, store/shop/restaurant signs, engravings on buildings and monuments, etc. They are at once branding and promotional devices; names (of buildings); labels; locating devices; material and technological artifacts; pieces of graphic, typographic, and industrial design; architectural heritage; industrial detritus; personal and cultural narratives. They are also intricately linked to the dominant preoccupations of the city: high-rise logos, for example, eloquently describe the commercial, financial, civic, even religious priorities of a particular urban locale - especially at night.

It is all the more surprising, given their sheer ubiquity, that signs and lettering have received relatively little coordinated attention - critical, creative, or otherwise. The Logo Cities symposium will draw together around thirty scholars, designers, and artists to foster an informed, critical dialogue about signage, branding, and lettering in public space - in local, regional, national, and international contexts.

Logo Cities will also include an art exhibition of creative works focusing on signage and lettering, alongside examples of old and new signs from around the city. The symposium will close with the Québec premiere of Helvetica, a new documentary film exploring the history and significance of this archetypal Modernist typeface which, for half a century, has been a ubiquitous presence in print and on signage in city streets, train stations and airports across the world. This screening of Helvetica will be introduced by the film's director, Gary Hustwit.

Concordia University Sponsors: Faculty of Arts and Science; COMS Guild; Obx Labs; Department of Design and Computation Arts; Department of Communication Studies.