From Southern California, public radio for your eyes.

The Long Goodbye

Philip Marlowe had a love/hate relationship with Los Angeles. He hated the fakes in Hollywood, but he loved the city's kaleidoscope of lights.

"There ought to be a monument to the man who invented neon lights," the fictional detective of Raymond Chandler's crime novels once said.

Los Angeles itself could be that monument. Our boulevards are lined with neon pinks and blues. The oldest operating neon sign ever found was uncovered just last year.

The neon noir of the '30s and '40s defines L.A. in cinema from any decade.

But are these signs of LA's past flickering out?

That's the question that Vicky Moon asks in her project Expired LA. Some of the most famous neon in L.A. has been switched off or traded in for cheaper LED lights.

Moon, a Burbank native who is studying fine art photography at Art Center, is drawn to liquor stores and dingy motels that have a hard time keeping the lights on.

"At one point in time, these buildings could have been the center of attention, but now they're not." Moon said. "They're kind of over. They're expired when you think about it."

To make the photo series, Moon hopped on her pink scooter with a camera in her backpack and drove the city streets until she found a neon sign that drew her attention.

The rolls of expired film Moon uses to shoot her haunting photos of LA's neon are almost as old as the signs she photographs. She found them at a flea market and traced their birthdate back 35 years.

To make photos on the stale film, she has to stand in front of the building and keep the shutter open for as long as 45 minutes.

This gives her a lot of time to contemplate the history of the liquor store or motel that she's photographing as people speed past in their cars without thinking twice.

(Via LA, I'm Yours)

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