Monday, April 26, 2010

On the Perception of Time, Temperature and Banking Institutions

As a child I found it curious that banks always had signs with the time and temperature displayed. You still see it occasionally, usually on older banks. I often re-notice it when I spot a bank that's a classic representative of an earlier decade's architecture.

I recently re-asked myself that question: Why did banks have signage that included the time and temperature? One reason, I suspect, is that it helped position banks as local institutions and part of the community. Sharing that information acts as a public and civic service. It also transforms a bank into a point of focus within its surroundings. It gives people reason to "look to" the bank. This is where the practice becomes treacherously clever. By anchoring themselves to fixed, universal aspects of reality it presents banking institutions as part of the natural order of things. Immalleable, unquestionable, and irrefutable presences in the world.


Ollie said...

Good observation. It reminds me of the talk of the economic 'climate' created by the banking crisis. A clever choice of metaphor, presenting as if it were a core natural force, more fundamental than a mere storm or weather phenomena but the very ground from which these are formed.

Thomas Sherman said...

Your connecting this to the use of the term "economic climate" is magnificent. I wish I would have made that connection. This deserved a deeper, more thorough investigation.

Beth pointed out to me that Banks still do this on TV with the quick "time & temperature" updates sponsored by banks between tv shows.

CobraSMACKdown said...

eeeh, we sure? most cultural terms are defined more often by journalists throughout media. they're better at stringing language together, filling in the blanks based on what they see and hear than most in the middle of it, living it. especially bankers, some of the most notoriously unclear and ungifted communicators of the modern age.