Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a member today »

The installation view of Kyle Trowbridge’s The Politics of Time at Dorsch Gallery. Image courtesy the gallery.

LOS ANGELES — QR codes are on the rise. I’ve spotted them everywhere, from subway ads (yes, we have subway ads in Los Angeles) to billboards to movie posters to business cards. And so they’ve inevitably cropped up in art.

DataSpaceTime’s QR code portrait of Qaddafi points to YouTube videos. Image courtesy Microscope Gallery.

I was recently pointed to the work of Kyle Trowbrdige, who is exhibiting in Miami’s Dorsch Gallery. Trowbridge painted 8 foot square QR codes in the vein of abstract geometric paintings. The objects themselves look interesting, like Mondrians meeting pixellation, but they also point to quirky conceptual phrases. “qr.7947423,” for instance, tells me: “I’ve Never Enjoyed the Price of Freedom.” “qr.2697401” offers more prosaic advice: “A picture is worth a 1000 kilobytes.” But only if they’re web-ready.

And then I stumbled across the QR code portraits of DataSpaceTime (Ray Sweeten and Lisa Gwilliam), who showed their work this past December at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn. The semantic content of their works, which includes wallpaper prints of QR codes, is composed of five-word combinations least used in the English language, according to Google’s NGRAM Book Project. The most eye-catching, at least from my computer, is a portrait of late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, made entirely of QR codes that point to YouTube videos.

With the QR_Stenciler I just looked at, I have to wonder if we’re reaching a tipping point with QR code art. Indeed, I see them now in placards at galleries and museums and in artists’ business cards. It only makes sense that they should appear in art. We’re already so busy snapping pics of art with our iPhones — why not get QR code data as well?

Support Hyperallergic

As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever. 

Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.

Become a Member

An Xiao

Artist An Xiao (aka An Xiao Mina) photographs, films, installs, performs and tweets and has shown her work in publications and galleries internationally. Find her online at @anxiaostudio...

8 replies on “QR Code Art Makes Its Way Into the Galleries”

  1. Its good to see QR codes reaching the mainstream again 🙂

    Patrick Donnelly ( @qrarts )

  2. I disagree with the first sentence. I believe that QR codes are actually
    on the decline (at least in marketing/advertising.) But I enjoyed
    reading and seeing the uses in contemporary art. 🙂

  3. Nice
    Post. I really enjoy the artwork with QR Codes. Good to see the popularity
    of  “quick response” code (QR Codes)
    from  black and white symbols to the
    future symbol of the our era as it is making its way into the marketplace,
    Exhibitions, Galleries and more.
     

Comments are closed.