Counting on Carrington Road: Street Numbers as Metonyms of the Urban

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Journal Article
Visual Communication, 2018, 17 (4), pp. 433 - 450
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© The Author(s) 2018. As urban renewal agendas are fortified in cities globally, ‘creativity’ – as contained within discourses of the creative industries, the Creative City and the creative economy – is circulated as the currency of secure post-industrial urban futures. Using the nexus between creativity and the urban as a starting point, the authors investigate how local enterprises visually communicate the urban in a neighbourhood that is characterized by the interface between manufacturing and creative industries. This research takes a fine-grained approach to the notion of creativity through an audit and qualitative analysis of the visual presentation, material attributes and semiotic meaning of street numbers. The authors do this by collecting data on and analysing how street numbers have been made, selected, used, replaced and layered in a contested industrial precinct in Australia’s largest city, Sydney. They contend that street numbers, as a ubiquitous technology within the city that is both operational and creative, are metonyms for what they understand to be urban. In arguing for vernacular readings of the city, they make use of a top-down, governmental mode of reading the city – the operational legibility of street numbering – as an intervention in current discourses of the urban and of creativity in the city.
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