But what about this particular slab of rotting particleboard? Such a prominent location, right there on the Boardwalk! The most valuable real estate in Monopoly! The timeless song by the Drifters (referring to
Regulation and strict permitting for billboards most likely help to reduce excessive billboarding and blight created from a consequent lack of demand. Some clearly some would argue that any billboard—blank or otherwise—is a blight to the environment. I don’t want to make a value judgment on billboards; I’m no Lady Bird Johnson. I often think billboards can be a prosaic but powerful vessel for folk art expression, though I can also respect those who see them as an egregious blend of commercialism and pollution.
One element that surely influences the success of billboards—and retail—beyond their location, location, location is the temporal factor. Time of year in a seasonal town like
Perhaps innovation plays an even bigger role here than in strip malls. Is it possible that, with both rotating panel billboards and now animated LED displays, the conventional static image will lose its luster? If high-speed train travel ever became a prominent means of transportation, would we see billboards along the railroad track, or would we be moving too quickly for the images to settle into our minds? The leadership of Atlantic City no doubt considers a single dead billboard as a minor concern, but I think these mounted advertisements are indelibly wedded to the larger palette of visual communications and are just as semantically rich as directional road markers, neon beer ads, barn roof paintings, or those great welcome signs when we cross state boundaries—all minor fixations of mine that hint at upcoming postings.