Day 10

The towns I've lived in for any extended period of time—El Reno, Hinton, Weatherford, Oklahoma City, and Shawnee, Oklahoma—have all been along Interstate 40, which roughly follows the path of Old Route 66 from Oklahoma City to California. Billboards advertising motels, gas stations and local attractions are an inescapable part of the road-trip landscape and have been since the early station-wagon pioneers of Old 66.

This billboard, which I snapped on one of a thousand trips out west, could hold its own in any contemporary art gallery, but it's unlikely that its creators had such aspirations. The haphazard nature, and beauty, of the composition is a consequence of resourcefulness. The separate regions have been recycled—cobbled from other billboards in the area. Right to left: 1, 2, & 4 - Cherokee Trading Post; 3 & 6 - Texaco (Texaco stations were converted to Shell stations in the recent past); and 5 - KOA Campground.

Deconstructivist designer, David Carson, once noted that these randomly assembled billboards are probably more effective than the originals. What was meant to be a neutral plane of "unadvertisment" becomes quite by accident a violation of our expectations, which makes for great visual communication.

 

40 West | 10 of 366 | April 3, 2011