Gay artist turns bandit signs into Roadside Haiku

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imageYou’ve seen bandit signs—the kind you read without even meaning to at red lights. Now contemporary Atlanta artist John Morse makes you take a second glance at promises to “Get Cash Now” and “Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days.”

Morse installed 500 haikus disguised as bandit signs (photo) around town last week in an experimental art project he calls Roadside Haiku, which aims to stop some traffic, or at least make you stop and think. The words “dump your bigotry” add a whole new meaning to “Lose ugly weight fast.”

The 12-inch by 18-inch haikus combine the city’s stop-and go traffic and your daily behind-the-wheel haze with Haiku surprises that “make a commentary on the urban conditition,” Morse says.

In its opening lines, Roadside Haiku offers ostensible nods to the defining consumerist allure of a bandit sign—making money, losing weight, selling old gold, yard sales, etc.—but within the 17 syllables, the project reveals an entirely different message, offering compact observations and commentary on modern life.

The ever-supportive arts conglomerate Flux Projects, which also helped bring the “Memory Flash” living gay Atlanta history project to us this spring, helped make Morse’s vision a reality.

You can seek out the signs on a map of the 500 original placements on telephone poles and spiked into the ground at street corners, but it might be more fun to just keep an eye out during your daily drives. Like all bandit signs, they’re sure to be stolen, torn down, or become victims of urban ne’er-do-wells as the project continues.

“This is not a date specific installation, but ongoing beginning last week and will last as long as the signs do,” Morse notes.

As an added bonus, filmmakers Proper Medium posted a two-minute short on Roadside Haiku. Check it out, then keep your eyes peeled.

Flux Film 001 | Morse from Proper Medium on Vimeo.


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