City of Signs

The city council of São Paulo has banished all street advertising. Where once stood garish billboards extolling the virtues of Heineken, Nivea Visage, or a Seat Toledo, now all that remains are the wireframes of the billboards themselves, signs that signify nothing.

As the newstory in The International Herald Tribune reports:

City planners, architects and environmental advocates have argued enthusiastically that the prohibition, through a new "clean city" law, brings São Paulo a welcome step closer to an imagined urban ideal.

The law, approved by a vote of 45 to 1 in September, goes into effect on Jan. 1... "I think this city is going to become a sadder, duller place," said Dalton Silvano, who cast the sole dissenting vote and is in the advertising business. "Advertising is both an art form and, when you're in your car or alone on foot, a form of entertainment that helps relieve solitude and boredom."

Flickr user Tony de Marco has put together a great photoset - São Paulo No Logo, documenting the effects of this new law. The bare armatures of the billboards frame the deep blue of the Brazilian sky.

But of course, more interesting than a city without adverts would be city made with nothing but adverts, a city of signs, pure semiotic space. Form and space would be defined purely by advertising and signage, a network of surfaces.

This animation, Kapital, by Studio Smack, comes close.