MISSING: A brief history of the missing person poster in society, art and fiction

How the aesthetics of the missing poster channel dread into our everyday lives.

The Lost Boys (1987) © Warner Bros. Pictures
Figure 1: Heavily worn images of missing cats, photographed by Bjorn Staps. © Bjorn Staps
Figure 2: A still from The Lost Boys (1987) © Warner Bros. Pictures
Figure 3: Milk cartons with photos of missing children on the side © Dairy Foods
Figure 4: Fake missing flyer used for the unconventional marketing for The Blair Witch Project (1999) © Artisan Entertainment
Figure 5: The ‘missing girl’ poster as seen in Gone Baby Gone (2007) © Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
Figure 6: A guerrilla marketing stunt promoted the third season of HBO’s Twin Peaks (1990–2017) through missing person flyers. © HBO
Figure 7: An example of the Dutch Amber Alert, in which the information about the missing person can be instantly displayed on ATMS displays, digital billboards, road signs and other digital displays in the public space. © amberalert.nl
A missing person poster with digital age progressions for Christopher Kerze, who dissapeared in 1990. © Missingkids.org © Eagan Police Department

Jelle Havermans (1994) is a visual artist and writer. He writes about horror, true crime and the history of photography and film.

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