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Chicago Neon Signs: Neighborhood and Downtown Landmarks Through a Toy Camera

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The neon sign is quickly fading from the Chicago landscape. At one time neon signs were a common sight in every neighborhood throughout the city. The signs brought energy and excitement to a community, and would attract people to local gathering places such as restaurants, theaters, and bowling alleys. Through time and continuous exposure to harsh Midwest elements the neon The neon sign is quickly fading from the Chicago landscape. At one time neon signs were a common sight in every neighborhood throughout the city. The signs brought energy and excitement to a community, and would attract people to local gathering places such as restaurants, theaters, and bowling alleys. Through time and continuous exposure to harsh Midwest elements the neon signs have begun to decay. During the day the remnants of many old signs display faded paint, rusting sides, and empty holes where glass tubes were once housed. But at night some signs still glow like a beacon on a dreary street. Since 2003, Chicago librarian and artist Dan Zamudio has photographed many of these signs, and he has collected them in a new book, Chicago Neon Signs: Neighborhood and Downtown Landmarks through a Toy Camera. The toy camera is called a Diana. The Diana camera is made of plastic, including the lens. Plastic lens produce a slightly blurred focus that can create beautiful surreal images. Zamudio has used the Diana to startling artistic affect, and many of his images are not complete representations of neon signs. Instead, sections of the signs are displayed, conveying enough information for viewers to recognize the sign. The signs in the book are rendered in glorious black and white, and offer a poignant and nostalgic look back at a bygone era.


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The neon sign is quickly fading from the Chicago landscape. At one time neon signs were a common sight in every neighborhood throughout the city. The signs brought energy and excitement to a community, and would attract people to local gathering places such as restaurants, theaters, and bowling alleys. Through time and continuous exposure to harsh Midwest elements the neon The neon sign is quickly fading from the Chicago landscape. At one time neon signs were a common sight in every neighborhood throughout the city. The signs brought energy and excitement to a community, and would attract people to local gathering places such as restaurants, theaters, and bowling alleys. Through time and continuous exposure to harsh Midwest elements the neon signs have begun to decay. During the day the remnants of many old signs display faded paint, rusting sides, and empty holes where glass tubes were once housed. But at night some signs still glow like a beacon on a dreary street. Since 2003, Chicago librarian and artist Dan Zamudio has photographed many of these signs, and he has collected them in a new book, Chicago Neon Signs: Neighborhood and Downtown Landmarks through a Toy Camera. The toy camera is called a Diana. The Diana camera is made of plastic, including the lens. Plastic lens produce a slightly blurred focus that can create beautiful surreal images. Zamudio has used the Diana to startling artistic affect, and many of his images are not complete representations of neon signs. Instead, sections of the signs are displayed, conveying enough information for viewers to recognize the sign. The signs in the book are rendered in glorious black and white, and offer a poignant and nostalgic look back at a bygone era.

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