QR Code ‘Robot Barf’

Compiled by Peter Romich and Eric Snodgrass

From its origins as a simple, useful, way of tracking items by linking data to the physical environment, the Quick Response (QR) code can now be found displayed on tombstones, rooftops, cupcakes, condoms, on the backs of fast moving vehicles, at tiny sizes on tops of buildings, as well as being pulled across the sky by small airplanes.

Oh, there’s also that waffle in Times Square.
The German media pop artist Aram Bartholl, known for building sculptures of web icons and implanting USB data storage into the urban environment, has placed QR codes in the gallery context as google search-generated portrait paintings.
In his essay City of QR Codes, Adam Rothstein walks the streets of his city obsessively scanning every QR code that crosses his path, and waxes poetic, basking in the fountain of revelatory knowledge they offer.

“This street, this entire block, this city—its beautifully exposed skin now appears in my imagination as a square of white and black squares, each structure and topological feature raising or lowering itself against a field of contrasting color. This city is a QR code.”

As part of their “homebrew infoviz graffiti” tools for locative and situated information display, Golan Levin and his F.A.T. Lab cohorts have created QR_HOBO_CODES, a series of QR code stencil designs which reinterpret 100 year old “hobo signs” in the contemporary nomadic context through messages which serve as directions, invitations or warnings: “insecure wifi”, “hidden cameras”, “bad coffee”, “vegans beware.”

“I Would Rather My Streets” is a project by Gui Machiavelli placing QR codes throughout the city of Stockholm to create a map of memories – each one linking to a short narrative of an place-specific experience.

“I have placed some of my memories created in Stockholm in the same places they were formed. Deposited in QR Codes as a memory layer on top of the world. Small narratives, from commonplace to slightly extravagant, from confessions to puzzling moments, hints of the countless brief experiences that populate our world.”
‘Layered defacement/augmentation,’ or ‘An ununited front on the culture war frontlines’: After an outdoor mural in Vancouver was tagged with an anarchist ‘A’, an excessively large QR code was painted over the defaced area like giant robot bandage. The QR code offers ‘virtual restoration’ by linking to an online image of the painting in its original state.
QR code radio: In Berlin, Sweza’s street art poster of a ghetto blaster uses a QR code to remediate your mobile device into a virtual cassette player, a clever, zero-budget cross-media promotional tool to promote your music and make urban spaces more interactive.
City of lights and dim bulbs: Like some Ray Bradbury meta-narrative come to life, a QR code-enabled animation-augmented tattoo from Paris, apparently, streamed live on Facebook, and sponsored by Axe Body spray, Betsafe.com, and with an official soundtrack featuring Diplo and Skrillex. (Okay, so those last bits are semi-speculative).
Haute couture runways attempt to encapsulate the cultured geist vanguard of tomorrow’s fashion trends. There are also moments – such as the misguided 1990s incorporation of grunge – when they fall flat on their faces and get covered in robot barf.
QR code, thy time is nigh! Mobile devices are getting smarter at reading spaces, moving from scanner to projector, as technology is forever asking us ‘what’s next?’ (Microsoft offering innovative, open-source solutions? The world truly is ending..)

“In scanning a QR code for embedded information, an individual effectively informs on himself, firing a flare in space.”

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2 Responses to this post
  1. 26 March, 2012 | James

    Robot barf = Bob for Art

  2. [...] aesthetic kick about, but also following some work done together with Peter Romich compiling a few notable examples of QR. The line “pronking in your pervy camo” is a (mis)appropriation of concepts suggested [...]