#QR Code Art by Lawrence McDonald


VANCOUVER — They were initially developed in Japan by a Toyota subsidiary to track car parts in the mid-1990s. Since then, QR codes have spread from the factory floor in Asia and are now being used for everything from selling hotdogs at baseball games to tracking airline tickets.

Now, they’re extending their reach further: A local gallery is using them to market art.

Elliott Louis Gallery in east Vancouver is using them on advertising to connect potential clients with videos about artists, said president and director Ted Lederer.

“What I’m finding is that the videos are becoming a major way to promote artists,” Lederer said in a phone interview.

“We put them on YouTube and we take the embedded YouTube video and put it on our site. If you scan one of the QR codes, you see the video, but you’re on our site. You’re beginning to see QR codes everywhere. I predict they’ll revolutionize how art is advertised.”

As the use of smartphones spreads, more and more QR codes are showing up in newspapers, magazines and billboards.

QR stands for Quick Response. The codes store digital information that can be read by a smart camera phone with the right application.

The distinctive QR code consists of a pattern of black squares on a white background arranged in a square. The white border on the outside is also part of the encoding.

They were developed by a company called Denso Wave. QR codes have a big advantage over bar codes because they can store much more information: 7,089 numeric characters versus 20. They can also be read very quickly from 360 degrees.

Once scanned, a QR code can take you directly to a website, text, MP3 or, in the case of Elliott Louis Gallery, a video of an artist.

Last year, QR codes were first used at Elliott Louis by photographer Lawrence McDonald. Instead of showing his photographs, he displayed six QR codes.

Hanging on the wall, they resembled geometric hard-edged works from the 1960s. Initially, McDonald and his friends had to show people how they worked because no one was familiar with scanning QR codes.

Once scanned, the QR codes displayed the photo on their screen. The QR codes on the wall were, in a sense, the negative for the photographic positive.

The gallery sold two of McDonald’s works during the exhibition.

McDonald believes QR codes will eventually have a profound effect on our lives, affecting how we buy everything from food to entertainment.

“You may indeed buy your next work of art by way of a QR code,” he said in his statement about his exhibition, Augmented Reality.

Lederer is working to make that happen at his gallery. He’s hired a website designer to revamp the gallery’s website to include a portal for mobile devices. He’s already added a QR code to his business card and eventually plans to have it linked directly to an introductory video.

He’s also bought the domain name qrcode.com

His goal is to have a separate page where people will be able buy art priced at $500 or less directly off their phones and mobile devices.

“I think we’re way in front of the art curve in Canada, but it’s coming and it’s coming like a freight train,” Lederer said.

The current exhibition at ELG is Taking Liberties, an exploration of the lowbrow or hard-edged pop world of car culture, comic books and neon by 12 Midnite. It continues to April 2.

Here are some randomly-picked links for QR Code reader apps for smartphones. For more choices, google QR readers:

iPhone: http://gigaom.com/apple/5-qr-code-readers-for-iphone/

Android: http://www.appbrain.com/app/quickmark-barcode-scanner/tw.com.quickmark

Blackberry: http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/13962

kevingriffin@vancouversun.com

blog: vancouversun.com/cultureseen

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Vancouver+gallery+uses+digital+technology+sell/4425579/story.html#ixzz1GKn7D0ND

 

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