Artist: Ralph Acosta
Exhibition: RELAX: REIMAGINING LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Media: Film, Paint, Wood, Photography, and Mixed Media
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marilyn Werby Gallery
For this weeks artist conversation I spoke with Ralph Acosta about his exhibition RELAX. Ralph is a recent graduate of the CSULB School of Art. He just received his MFA in graphic design after completing the three year program, RELAX is actually his graduate student thesis show. Ralph grew up in Koreatown and remembers going to LAX for the first time when he was nine years old. Today flying is usually seen as a hassle, but in this exhibition Acosta revisits a time when going to the airport was a romantic experience.
Ralph Acosta’s, RELAX: REIMAGINING LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, is comprised of a video, photographs, and fonts created for Los Angeles International airport. The video is proposed as a video to be shown as you are standing in the TSA line in the airport. The video includes many short clips of the airport throughout a long time span and also says that there are about 1,500 flights per day at LAX. The photographs include the Theme Building, a top view of the runway, as well as a viewpoint from a passenger on the runway. The exhibition also displays a font created by Acosta specifically for signage at the LAX airport.
When talking with Acosta he said he wanted to bring back the romance in air travel with this piece of work. The video he had for the TSA line was intended to not bring flyers down, unlike the generic videos they usually use that instruct flyers on how to properly put their belongings in bins. The photographs he used were common shapes exclusive to LAX, this included the Theme Building, the runway, and the squircles (combination of a square and circle) which can be sign in the airports architecture. The photographs used reminded Acosta of when he was a child, when you had to dress up to go to the airport and flying was a much more romantic experience than it is today. Acosta drew inspiration from the squircles in order to create this font for airport signage. He used the color blue for his font which represents the beautiful Pacific ocean; For the signage he used the color orange as it is an international color for signage.
As I walked into the exhibition my attention was drawn to the photographs immediately. The photograph of the Theme Building has a very 1960’s vibe to it between the architecture of the building and black & white photo. Acosta’s use of squircles in his work is very appropriate to the vintage ambiance he is going for. The squircle based font he created perfectly matches the architecture of Los Angeles International Airport. His proposals for signage of baggage claim, arrivals, and departures is refreshing and innovative. For baggage claim his proposed signage is a large orange lower-case b. I think this is a great way to simplify signs and make them more easily understood by international travelers. Ralph Acosta’s RELAX: REIMAGINING LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT creates the ambiance of vintage air travel while also taking signage design into the future.