Accessibility Links


1h 24m Documentary 2015

Award-winning filmmaker Lawrence Johnston (Eternity, Night, Fallout) traces the history and enduring allure of neon.

Lawrence Johnston’s Neon is a visually gorgeous and exhaustively well-researched celebration of the invention, aesthetics, commercial applications and social history of the neon sign. Over a century, its visual beauty, design and construction methods changed very little, making neon one the greenest forms of light ever produced and an enduring form of colour and light in the cityscapes of our (night)lives. The evolution of neon mirrored the evolution of global commerce and society throughout the twentieth century into this new millennium.

Exploring the history and heritage of the form, this sumptuous visual travelogue follows the invention and popularisation of neon in locations from Las Vegas to New York, Hong Kong to Havana. Johnston interviews some of the practitioners who have designed and produced neon, with its myriad of colour and stylised beauty, for commercial signage, to the works of international artists, Tracey Emin and Bruce Nauman. He also speaks to the heritage activists who champion the cultural value of neon and “save” signs at places like the Boneyard in Las Vegas even as the proliferation of energy-intensive LED signs hastens neon’s unwelcome disappearance.

Director of Photography

Eron Sheean






Ronin FIlms

You may also like

1h 26m Documentary 2013
Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible
1h 18m Documentary 2017
Rocking the Foundations
1h 32m Documentary 1985
Faces Places
1h 29m Documentary 2017

Download the app to view your purchased content!

Available on TV apps

ACMI acknowledges the Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, on whose land we meet, share and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or text.