Robert L. Peters

17 September 2010

Bandit signs… for good roadside haiku.

Atlanta, Georgia

“Here is another item to add to my list of “things I didn’t know had a name:” bandit signs. In case you, like me, are unfamiliar with the term, bandit signs are those dubious-looking advertisements that dot the country’s commuter roads, promising fast money, easy weight loss, and painless hair removal. Usually tacked to telephone poles or stoplights, bandit signs are gloomy but reliable indicators of our collective anxieties. Yet where some see desperation, the Atlanta-based artist John Morse sees inspiration.

Last month, Morse installed five hundred of his very own bandit signs at busy intersections across Atlanta. However, his signs came with a unique twist: they were written in the form of a haiku, the traditional Japanese poem that consists of seventeen syllables when written in English. Instead of images of nature and the changing seasons, Morse’s poems allude to cash-for-gold schemes and singles meet-ups. They are, as he explains, comments on the “consumerist allure” implicit in bandit signs…”

[from a post last week by Meredith Blake in The New Yorker]

Watch a great little video about John Morse and his roadside haiku installations on Vimeo here (2:29). If you find yourself in the Atlanta region, you can use this Google map to find hundreds of the signs (Morse has mapped all of their locations).

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