Elevator call station at Nasty Hospital
Excessive, uncoordinated signage seems to be rampant in this culture, as well as an aversion to using graphics to communicate messages. i first noticed this when i was a kid, living in France, where we had a French car that had the nicest simple graphics to denote the gas level, oil pressure, fan, hot, cold, etc. This was in contrast to American cars, which for years would spell everything out in letters, as if the target audience was complete idiots that needed to read, over and over, what was being displayed in the gas gauge. i'm still amazed that we have to write "stop" on all our stop signs. Is our legal system to blame for our text centered culture?
This picture is interesting because it demonstrates the limits of both graphics and text. The large stop on the stop sign is redundant with the graphic of a red octagon placed at an intersection, and therefore becomes intellectually invisible. However, as soon as the sprayed note shows up, "stop" becomes integral to another message that has nothing to do with the original intent of the graphic, and so separates itself from the graphic to join its more natural home in text. "Stop", as text, is torn by the tension between its imposed home in the alien world of graphics and its more natural home as text and component of a sentence. The sprayed message takes advantage of the use of a stop sign to symbolize "Stop", but in this location it has the unintended consequence of commenting on nature of text and graphics, and the uneasy relationship between both.
i suppose there are those who would argue that text is nothing more than a collection of graphic symbols for the sounds we peep, and that anything we "write" is graphic, but that tosses out the usefulness of a distinction between the two.