Quick Response

Quick Response or QR Codes are little black and white squares that conceal information only accessible to those with the latest technology. QR Codes are a tool fueled by advertisers and marketers with a desire to connect with todays plugged-in and socially networked masses. These little pixilated patterns have become a growing part of popular culture in the United States. Used on movie posters, cereal boxes, CNN news casts and even on sides of buildings, many are starting to see them everywhere. One of the larger known artistic codes is SoyaHaus by the WRMC Collaborative which covers the side of an abandoned home in Providence RI. When decoded, QR codes show pictures, point to websites, act as brochures and give access to exclusive content. 

While the usage of these little 2D bar codes is growing in the States, they have been widely used in Asia and Europe for nearly two decades. QR Codes were developed in 1994 by Denso-Wave to increase both the amount of data that could be stored in a bar code, and the speed in which the data is decoded. Depending on the size of the pattern, these little codes may contain between 10 to 4296 characters. More than enough for a tracking number, text or a URL such as the one that points to this forward, which uses a 25x25 version 2 code.

A medium ripe to subvert, manipulate, and re-contextualize artists use these codes to spread their e-voice on the street for the tech savvy to digitally hear in the connected electronic world. An early example can be seen in the 2006 interactive painting La peinture en plein info by french artist Fabrice de Nola. Just as Pop artists of the past used mass-produced, print adds and mundane cultural objects to emphasize the banal and kitsch elements of culture, contemporary artists use QR Code technology in a similar vein to emphasize electronic, encoded information and accessibility issues inherent to this medium as a way to leave behind narratives and create connections in todays digital environment.