The underground metro in Paris is proclaimed in a whimsical font, worthy of talking to flâneurs, who stroll through the city, stumbling upon its tucked away artisan boulangeries, mediatheques, salons and cafes.
Metro signs are usually the authoritative peppering of a city, that define your place and station in life. They become landmarks as well as milestones – and provide assurance to the weary tourist or commuter by both defining the place as well as exact time to the next.
In most cities in the world, the signs for these metros embody the factual aspect of this location with unambiguity and rationality. In Paris, they are playful. They seem to be part of a journey, rather than markers of a destination. Symbolic of a culture that seems to take its time to ‘live’: to eat, to drink (you can come back to the cafe on the sidewalk 3 hours later and find the same people there), to holiday (the legendary 4.5 day week and the 40 working weeks) – as against cities where people are rushing to get somewhere.
Upon arriving in Paris, Google maps are rendered meaningless. Left does not necessarily mean left, and the second turn on the right does not seem to exist. All roads are at angles, frequently coming together in irregular crossings. The grid-like clarity of Manhattan suggests that you know exactly where you want to go. Paris invites you to get lost. And find multiple ways to get there. It is not a place for the exact minded – with a carefully constructed understanding of input and output. It is symbolic of a culture that is willing to find many possibilities.
What better location for @SemioFest2015? It is after all #RolandBarthes country!!