Pizza, Power & Provocation

Two-Channel Video Installation, 8:21, 2012

Producer, Director, Cinematographer, Editor

Description

Jim Moury uses the electronic sign in front of his business to promote his pizza restaurant and air his grievances with city hall in defiance of the local government’s sign ordinance.

• Selection, START: WFU Student Gallery’s March 2013 Exhibit, “From Self to Other II / Selections from Video Art” (March 5- March 30, 2013)

Backstory

Free speech debates emerge as digital technologies offer new and modern means of making your opinion known. Arguments occur over how devices should be used and if electronic self-expression can or should be regulated. How does the First Amendment apply to new technology?

I’ve been interested in the variable-message sign in front of Upper Crust Pizza along busy Silas Creek Parkway since I moved to Winston-Salem in 2010. In between the standard advertising you’d expect from a pizzeria (announcements of deals, “we match competitors coupons,” etc.), the sign was used by the owner to air his grievances with the local government using a combination of crass language and the advanced LED’s flashy effects and transitions. I learned the small business owner, Jim Moury was being confrontational with his sign in protest of the City of Winston-Salem’s sign ordinance. The history of the sign goes back further and Jim’s issues with City Hall are more complex than I could have anticipated. Driver safety is the city’s stated reason for banning motion graphics on this type of sign, while Mr. Moury says that restricting what he can do with his $53,000 sign is a violation of his civil rights.

Installation

The film was on exhibit the evening of October 14th, 2012 from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M., displayed digitally at the base of the roadside sign.

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