The picture below was taken this afternoon across the street from my office on 4th Street in Berkeley. Can you copyright a building facade? Probably. Before this lettering pattern appeared, I would have ventured to observe that the building itself was vacant. Behind the ranks of uniform glass panes is a lot of two- or three-story high permanent heavy hydraulic equipment--thick gauge pipe, valves etc. God knows what went on in there in its heyday. Buildings like these in the last couple of dozen years in the Bay Area have been appropriated for low-tech small businesses or converted/subdivided office-spaces. Lots of artists have studios or work-spaces in them. I have no idea who's occupying this place now, but there's no evidence of human activity from the outside. Perhaps someone simply got permission to perform this appliqué as a project. . . ?
Clicking on the picture will render a much larger image, enabling you to read the words formed by the letters in the panes. The "message" is as follows:
I haven't tried very hard to decipher this, but it's possible there are some acrostic messages here. Maybe it's a coded transmission lurking behind the quotidian word-list? Or maybe it's just a light-hearted art project to make passers-by ponder for a moment. If so, there isn't much that I'm able to make out of it that would cause me to spend much effort meditating it.
Anyway, pay attention when you walk the streets. There are always surprises. Especially in a place like Berkeley. An open mind, and an open eye can get you into trouble, but also might open up doors. Who knows what awaits you around the corner?
Addendum [12/2/11]. Clarification of last four words of the window display. INHERITS/TECHNOGA/INCHANGE, or INHERITS TECH/NO GAIN CHANGE. I inquired with a tenant in the building who told me the landlord had authorized someone to make this installation, but knew no more about it. -CF