QR Here

QR HERE is a zine project I’ve created to reflect a modern-day phone book. Over time, the links will break the same way a phone number disconnects.

 

Some codes hide, and some are too faded or torn to scan, therefore noticed but gone unarchived. Sometimes, your phone battery runs out. You may have no cell service to reach the website at the other end.

If a QR code is placed but nobody scans it, does the digital presence even exist?

Or is the content at the other end of the code ironically distilled into a sequence of squares that only internet-enabled cameras can read? Will humans ever be able to read these codes with just our eyes; will they become a new written language to decode? Or does the advent of tech allow us to forget or ignore the encoded message that a browser’s utility provides? Are QR codes similar to a binary code language in that we can understand and decode the placement of 1s and 0s, but with the right technology, why should we have to?

QR codes don’t expire, but both the digital and physical environments they are found in can expire or change. Most code is written purely for technology, and spoken or written language can be shared without technology. QR codes are unique in that they exist in a hybrid communications space being designed by the advent of Web3.

The websites these codes are hard-coded to link to become altered while the internet changes around it. URLs and QR codes are unable to adapt or update on their own. Much like a real image in the world cannot change with us, without a viewer’s perception.

The physical environment in which the QR code is placed, hoping to be scanned, changes as well. The content of this zine consists of QR codes that I scanned on street corners, posters, and other public spaces.

This project creates an internet archive made from the happenstance of existing and navigating my “IRL” world. The ongoing volumes of QR HERE reflect the places I have visited and seen during a defined period, and I scan any codes that I have been lucky to notice that were placed there before me, with no other purpose other than something to say. My camera listens.

The first edition of the QR HERE zine was printed on yellow paper as an homage to the Yellow Pages – named for the colored paper historically found in local phonebooks.

Each printed zine includes a QR code sticker you can place in the world, directing you to a PDF of the zine and its future volumes which I can update remotely from an InDesign cloud file. Think of this as a QR code gateway to hundreds more. This is the only way you can view all of the QR codes from the project at once.

The project title, QR HERE is a play on the phrase, “you are here.” These codes were each placed by a creator and designer of their own, who produced and stuck them in public spaces they visited to spread a personal message. By scanning a QR code found in the world, you have walked in the steps of the artist or activist before you.