Chinatown is a series by artist Mehmet Gözetlik that translates well-known trademarks into Chinese. The 20 artworks are based on the logos of western brands. Gözetlik designs the translated logos, then handcrafts neon signs based on the designs.
China’s economy is now the biggest in the world. To approach the market, global brands in China must perform a balancing act – they must be a great global brand, but also show commitment and desire to be part of the local culture, Gözetlik told HKFP.
Sooner or later, most major global brands will need to translate their logos to demonstrate alignment with local Chinese culture and tastes, according to the artist. He thinks that they will “certainly” collapse when the time comes, due to their existing brand structure that is built on western culture and Latin words.
Chinatown reflects the branded world of the near future through Chinese letters with the classic neon sign style typical of China, Gözetlik said. It uses basic words for translation, such as “caramel macchiato” for “Starbucks” in order to maintain visual continuity.
By arranging the words this way, Chinatown pushes viewers to ask themselves what it means to see, hear, and become fully aware, said Gözetlik. “Chinatown also demonstrates our strangeness to 1.35 billion people in the world, when you can’t read Chinese.”
All of the brand logos are converted to neon colours and line-based variations. “Neon lights are not used as a medium but as a cultural symbol, which represent the aesthetic codes of China,” the artist said.
Mehmet Gözetlik is Co-founder and Executive Art Director of Antrepo, a collective platform. He continues artistic work in Istanbul and teaches entrepreneurship at Bilgi University. He attends national and international conferences to explain the global effects of his projects and share his ideas about future needs. Follow this link to see more from this project.