Jo's Web Wizardry

This month, we demystify the QR Code and look at how artists around the world are embracing this new piece of technology.

On receiving your membership renewal letter earlier this month, you may have noticed the strange black and white mosaic box on the corner of the Herts Open Studios poster. This is a Quick Response, or QR Code which works in a similar way to a barcode.

Scanning the QR Code with a smartphone enables the user to be taken directly to specified text, emails, websites, phone numbers and more. There is no need to remember an email address or website to look at later.

As smart phones become more and more common place, it’s easy to see how quickly the QR code will become a mainstream means of marketing products, brands, services and everything inbetween.

So what does this mean for artists?

In the States, there’s an emerging trend of museums and galleries utilising the QR Code to its full potential, linking directly to artist statements, and even the artwork itself, seen by one example in San Diego last year.

Closer to home, last year the National Museum of Scotland added QR codes to a number of its exhibits, enabling visitors to leave comments and share memories of the objects on display, (ranging from a Hillman Imp car to an old Singer sewing machine) with the aim of building up a social history of the artifacts.

The National Trust property Attingham Park is another example of how QR Codes are used to enrich user experience by supplementing the visit itself with You Tube videos offering more information at various points around the grounds.

It’s easy to see how this could benefit us artists, allowing people to discover more about the concepts and thought processes behind a piece of work, or even invite people to share their own comments on an exhibition.

Not everyone may own a smart phone at this point in time, but they’re spreading fast and the QR Code is clearly revolutionising the way in which people interact with the space around them.

There exists potential for Open Studios to be so much more than simply opening your door to the public - your sketchbook, website, blog and even You Tube videos could be something we see much more of in the future.

And why stop there? If you’re really excited by the QR Code revolution, why not do what Fred Bosch did and get yourself a QR Code tattoo.

by JO ATHERTON

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