QR Code as Art

Recently, I have come to realize how many issues I have hidden from by being a work-a-holic. Especially losing my mother and brother so close together. It was coming out in unhealthy ways and I have been looking for better ways to process those events, rather than letting them fester as a back-ground brain process.

I had two friends recently recommend “art as therapy”. And I loved the idea, it reminded me of how I have used tinkering/hacking as a kind of therapy in the past. I thought perhaps I could try both at once.

QR codes are going to have a small renaissance now that iOS 11 natively reads QR codes in the main camera application. This has renewed my obsession with QR codes, and I have been researching how QR codes, and art, and cryptocurrencies play along. You can embed crypto keys into QR codes, and you can embed QR codes into art, which is an amazing concept that I got from a the cryptoart booth at SXSW several years ago.

I am thinking about QR code stenciling again, as well as QR code tattoos.

But putting QR codes on art, or even spray painting them is just scratching the surface. One of the most interesting things that you can do with a QR code is merge it with art. This merger can be done in several different ways. First, you can just use a mosaic of some kind, and make the “boxes” of the QR code out of something interesting (Mosaic). Because of how QR code error correction works, you can typically fit things in the center of a QR code without interfering with the reading of the QR code (Overlay). The thing that QR code scanning apps typically care about it the contrast, which means that you can actually muck about with the contrast on a regular image and have the QR codes and the images merge (Contrast). Lastly, you can actually change the layout of the blocks in the QR code to have the QR code itself have a visible pattern (Q-Art). This is my favorite because if the tremendous depth of the maths involved, which actually honors the QR code standard and the URL standard to do something pretty profoundly different. This method was first developed by Russ Cox. Its actually pretty difficult to find any single place where these three distinct methods are even listed out. Most of the good article detail how to use one and only one method. So here we go.







Pretty sure this does not count as a “method” by itself, but here is a project that let you map a QR code into a lego building plan. So that you can build your QR code out of legos.

Someone took this a step farther an made a qr code from the shadows of legos..

The upside-down earth logo that you see featured here repeatedly is the work of my dear friend Richard Sachs for my Walking Gallery jacket, which was then adopted as the logo for my healthcare data journalism efforts, with The DocGraph Journal.