RCA exhibition

All student work displayed at the RCA exhibition this summer was labeled with a QR code- perhaps that’s unsurprising. One of the works that caught my attention on my visit there is this piece – QR U? created by Thorunn Arnadottir.

The Swarovski crystal QR-beaded dress was designed for pop star Kali of Icelandic group Steel Lord. When QR codes from the various garments made by Thorunn were scanned, it linked the audience to the group’s various promotional material – such as an animation e.g. the face on the QR code would humorously mouth the words to the music. Please visit Thorunn’s website to see more images.

From Thorunn’s website:

‘In only a few years the combination of the Internet’s social networks and digital cameras on mobile phones have changed the way we express our identities. Individual expression has been made significantly easier and the route to fame more accessible. It has also turned all of us into our own “paparazzis”.

Reading through some articles and texts about the effect of technology on our society I found the word “tribal” to be a reoccurring term used to describe it.

To use a very analogue culture as a reference to describe the effect of high tech on our society I find very interesting and this led me to how beads have been used as a communication tool and to express individual identity in African culture and how we also use “beads” (pixels) in the digital culture as a communication tool and to express our identities online.

QR U? explores the juxtaposition of self promotion and personal privacy in this new environment. Could traditional African bead craft be used in it’s original function of communicating identity but used with modern technology in contemporary context?

Inspired by african beads and masks that use decorative symbols to communicate identity, designer Thorunn Arnadottir beaded Swarovski crystals into QR codes to explore notions of self promotion and personal privacy in todays digitally networked environment. By taking a picture with a smart phone with a QR reader application you can access the online identity that hides behind these patterns.

The ‘Super self-promotional dress’ designed for Icelandic pop star, Kali from Steed Lord directs the photographer to a number of links, including the band’s videos, music sites and an unique animation of the QR code itself.

The ‘Privacy glasses’ are on the boundaries of a mask and sunglasses, high-fashion and theatrical. They give an air of importance, like famous people in Venice would wear elaborate masks, or Hollywood stars wear big flashy sunglasses. When they are scanned you will be given the option to pay a set sum to a charity chosen by the celebrity. The glasses commodify the privacy of the celebrity to the benefit of the charity. Donate to the charity and the identity of the person will be revealed.’

A lot of research and reasoning behind the work! I’m impressed. How cool would it be to have the band playing live wearing this costume.



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