With a common QR code transformed as artistic visual art, Whis- pering wants to introduce a new concept in contemporary art, where the QR code (or tilakka, as I prefer to say), takes visitors, art collectors and fans, to an always changing sound art piece, updated several times per week, by me.
I wanted to perform for an audience as life happens, in the present, yet free of the constraints of space. When I share new thoughts, words, ideas, sounds, I feel close to that person who, today, is scanning me. I believe there’s a deep universal connection happening at that very moment, between both of us.
Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?
A writer at heart, I began transforming my childish poetry into music, movement, and converting it to visual art, photography and videoart. Fusing the different art forms allowed me to express my thoughts, concepts and sense of connectedness with the world around me. I was influenced by the minimalism of Michael Nyman’s compositions, the freedom and use of technology of Laurie Anderson, the thought provoking video installations of Antoni Muntadas, and the work of surrealists like Dalí and René Magritte, amongst many others, many well known and novel artists as well. These inspired and encouraged me to explore different dimensions, and to try and develop new art concepts, explore the senses and find my own style and medium. After a hiatus of more than 20 years (working as an emotion-centered designer), I returned to writing and composing music, storytracks and soundart to augment photographs and visual art with the use of QR codes. I had the urge to engage more senses and augment
the visual experience, opening my art to people with different sensorial abilities (singing and signing, visual and sound, touch...), exploring, discovering, expanding. I enjoy bringing an observer’s perspective (serving as a medium) into their work (i.e. “Pin-Up Girls”, in collaboration with photographer Valery Rizzo), painting with sounds and words (i.e. Word Strokes’s, “Floating”), bringing movement and poetry into a sound piece (i.e. “The Passage”, in collaboration with jazz musician Omar Sosa). QRs allowed me to do this, hence calling it QRt (QR/Art, a concept I tried - unsuccessfully - adding to Wikipedia). I created “Whispering”, my first representation of “live wall art”, as a visual piece that integrates what I now call a “tilakka” (a QR code that leads to an experience), in which the art piece, while visually an artwork in itself, it contains an added dimension (audio in this case), that changes over time, as and when I choose. Tilakka.art is the way I chose to first share this concept with the world. I like to think that with “Whispering”, those who encounter the “live” piece often (i.e. in their homes, work or frequented public space), scan it every so often to capture the new message or experience, a new soundart of the piece (sometimes sounds, others words, others…). As a conceptual artist, I would like to see the tilakka concept being adopted and replicated by others, creating their own tilakkas. By integrating them into their artwork, product labels, ads, books, signs, objects, spaces, etc., they can offer additional engaging augmented value, and they can either choose to have a once constant augmented dimension or have the tilakka change as often as it’s intended, while the other dimension remains the same. I envision tilakkas in all wine bottles, with the voice of the Sommelier describing that wine, and the voice of the makers attached to their products, describing their inspirations, something special, unique-for-their-fans messages (behind the scenes comments). I envision brands of all types integrating “live tilakkas” to promote new or classic poetry, music, art, etc. I see QRt as a new enhanced and more authentic way to connect with others, transitioning art, from the walls of an exclusive art gallery to people’s everyday surroundings.
What is the most challenging part of working with new media?
When I first began exhibiting my QRt people were not familiar with QR reader applications, so I began exhibiting my work with headphones available below each of my pieces, and providing simple smartphones with the app installed. It was actually a wonderful and fun experience, for it added an additional discovery layer. The QR embedded in the artwork would augment the visual art they were contemplating (so the experience is augmented, their attention retained, and not redirected). Since the covid19 pandemic, everyone is familiar with QR readers, and that has eased the exhibit process. However, I realized that QR readers were not used to serving as mediums of art and thought, and when a “text tilakka” (i.e. I LOVE YOU, QRt in my self-portrait) is scanned, the reader application automatically places the text in a search form, instead of simply displaying the words as in a blank page - where the message is key. This led me to develop my own app, Tilakka App (freely available both in Google Play and the Apple App Store), which captures a text QR for what it is, a felt and sincere message, from me to you. I hope that future QR readers improve their scanner solutions to consider this new use of QRs.
In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?
I think of art as the form of expression that allows one’s essence, thoughts and reflections to breathe and materialize, freely, engaging both the mind and the senses. Art as the medium to transform life as we know it, the expression that leads to innovative in thoughts and concepts, the sandbox from which to create new perspectives and engage others in unique, new and different ways. Art as a socially transforming tool.
How would you describe the art scene in your area?
Vibrant, quiet, anxious, challenging. I live in the NY-Bowerylike area in Barcelona (Parc i Llacuna/ Poblenou), the quickly changing industrial area in the center of Barcelona, where some artists, creators, makers and the like found spaces that would nurture their art, at more affordable prices (now all quickly disappearing). The area is home to creativity, design, innovation, dreams. It fosters relationships amongst artists that bump into each other in the corner bars or meet at the
many art exhibits happening in the area. But the art buyer market is invisible to many, as the art collector or buyer community is dramatically smaller than that in other places, like New York, Paris, Berlin, etc. I am a participant of a local abstract art collective, Estesia (http://estesia.eu/) and we feel very fortunate to hold several exhibits a year, but it is a challenging task to get people engaged, and buying art too. I feel the Ikea culture does not create space for original art ;-) But we live in the internet era, where boundaries and distances disappear, making the world “our neighbourhood”, fostering relationships between artists, art lovers and art buyers, opportunities to engage, exhibit, to learn, explore and create.
What do you like/dislike about the art world?
I am fascinated by how the internet has facilitated the sharing of art, through websites, online exhibits, media, such as this Art Reveal Magazine, and social media. The digital highways have delivered art to people’s homes, phones, etc., and this, has inspired others to create, has transformed others through the provocations and thoughts of the art itself, has made art more inclusive in general, and globally, the art world is dramatically changing with new technologies, new concepts and new uses of technology. However, this also creates an abundance of art and artists, making it more challenging to exhibit, sell, and dedicate oneself fully to art. As an artist, I practice taming the internet space so that the sacredness of my time is well preserved, and used to observe, feel, understand. I recently deleted all of my social media accounts, for I felt being robbed of my time and wanted to spend more time in the organic (vs. digital) world. I trust the Universe is unfolding as it should and that my energy and essence are flowing in this larger than I can imagine dimension. I trust. I delete.
Name three artists you admire.
As I find it too difficult to pick just three artists I admire, I will instead describe three things that I admire in an artist: The ability to connect, awaken and inspire all ages, making art that transforms as one matures. Inclusiveness, exploring ways to reach different senses. The full release of creative potential in their concepts, transforming the rational into new, most of the times magic, sometimes strange, concepts.
What are your future plans?
I am currently working on a series of QRt-augmented mundane objects, crafting a proposal for a public QRt work outdoor installation, introducing the concept of “impulse learning” (creating engaging learning and augmented sensorial experiences), and plan to also continue collaborating with photographers, creating strytracks for their artwork. Whenever possible, I will continue to share the potential of the QRt concept, applied in ways to augment existing experiences. I’d like for makers and creatives to spin QR codes 45º, so to flag the experience, so the common QR code that leads to a website can coexist with an experience QR code, a tilakka. As the Covid19 has imposed social distancing around the world, I see tilakkas quite relevant in some instances, helping some industries adapt to the new times, from what was previously done presentially, to now delivering the experience in an audio format on the label. For example, by replacing the wine tasting experience with “Sommelier” tilakkas on the wine labels, people will be able to enjoy the wine-tasting experience while sharing it at home with their partners. The audio tilakka will allow wine lovers to retain the senses in the color of wine, the setting, the room, the company, while drinking and listening to the e Sommelier.