Monday, 23 January 2012

London Art Fair - decoding Mark King

It is difficult to be unaware of the ubiquitous QR codes which are popping like some kind of technological graffiti. And without a reader they are meaningless which is what makes this piece of art so intriguing. Having resisted the need to download one, today I paid a visit to the app store. All in the name of art.

At first glance the piece is a simple clean back and white A1 print hung and stretched by unassuming bulldog clips; a clear nod to the artist's graphic design background. A design of old fashioned computer game space invaders line up mid game. One on the bottom line is missing and a shot is being fired downwards.

Look closer and suddenly these little aliens take on a new dimension. Away from the 1980s nostalgia, they are made up of any number of modern QR codes representing the block pixels of old.

So far computers are unable to 'read' pictures; so far we remain unique in this ability to decode symbols and context in art to enrich our experience of it. However to interpret what this picture is saying we require a computer to instantly read and interpret. Our human intelligence perhaps merely suggests fond emotional remembrance of these retro space invaders.

So what is the picture saying? Without scanning every single code we don't know. A random selection linked to tweets:

Environment; 'there is no real excuse for choosing to be an ignorant polluting society without respect for the ecosystems we exploit. Believe that :-)'
Friendship; 'hey I torture my friends but they deserve it'. Another came up with roughly, 'every terrorist owns a Casio watch'.
Media; 'Mainstream media - Better name is US Government Department of Propaganda and Misinformation'
Media; 'Maybe us white folks lean to be PERFECT like black hear the propaganda machine (media), the only bad people are whites'
Media; 'it's a sad DAY in America when reasonably intelligent people are called ignorant & propaganda is treated like manna from heaven'

The last three being from one invader.

A few others inevitably are broken links. This interpreting immediately adds a whole new view of the space invaders; fascinating fragments of random humanity hidden by code.

 For further information go to his blog and website

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