ISSN : 2266-6060

Ecologies

Paris, june 2009.

We have been trying to show it since the beginning of Scriptopolis: public lettering is extremely diverse. One can find very different kinds of signs and marks in cities. Yet, their very coexistence is not always peaceful. Semiotic species regularly struggle against each others in more or less official and more or less violent manners. This is the very ‘ecological part’ of the graphical ecology of urban settings: cohabitation is dynamic and conflictual. Territories are won, specimen get killed, endangered species become almost invisible.
Recently, sheer ecological policies are implemented by institutions or supported by activists. In both cases they are usually strongly tied to the notion of visual, or informational, pollution. Thus, Ecology is mostly, today, a matter of ‘cleaning’ and key features of contemporary graphical ecology are disappearance and removal. To clean the city from advertisement, with the help of the law or against it. To maintain graffiti-free streets. Species may be different, issues are of the same order.
But such ecological processes are never unidimensional. Cleaning is always a delicate matter of matter. For instance, getting rid of a graffiti by removing it may turn out to be dangerous for the wall or the door on which it figures. Therefore, sometimes removing means actually covering. An opportunity for the surface to get a brand new paintwork. An opportunity for scriptopolians to remember that urban settings primarily exist and are organized through various forms of visibility and invisibility.