Poetry Gabriola to launch QR Anthology expanding access to art through technology

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, July 26 2016

Islanders and summer residents are invited to participate in a joint project from the Poetry Gabriola Society and the Gabriola Institute of Contemporary Art called the QR Anthology. The project is part public art installation and part geocaching treasure hunt. It’s a fresh new idea that islanders and summer residents will be able to access with their smartphones. 

“One of the technologies that’s quite common but not often used to create a connection to poetry or art, is QR codes. Real estate agents use them, and it’s been around for about 10 years. We are appropriating it for our mapping project,” says President of the Poetry Gabriola Society, Andreas Kahre.

QR codes can be read by any smartphone with an appropriate app (which is free and easy to download), but they can do more than take you to a website. QR codes can be used to play audio files, show movies, display images, create web content filters, and display text. 

A QR code is like a link to a URL but Poetry Gabriola will be using the technology to connect people to poetry that has been written about various places and things on our island. An interactive electronic art map will be created from all the submissions and at each place marker on the map there will be a QR code that is visible to be scanned. It could be on a tree at Sandwell or at Berry Point. Kahre says a number of people have already submitted about the Quinsam and the QR code could be down at the bulletin board at the ferry if BC Ferries agreed to it.

“Artists choose the sites. If someone wants to tell us what sites inspire them, they should send in the work. It could be text, sound, spoken, image or a combination of these, or a video or media file. Anything that resides in digital format can be content for QR links. People without smartphones can get the link and go to the Poetry Gabriola website. Each work will have its own dedicated webpage.

With the QR project we have two ideas,” says Kahre. “To give poetry and peoples’ responses to a place they care about a way to be localized and shared. Poetry tends to exist on pages of a book, in recitation, or it’s performed. Usually it can be something hard to find, in this case it makes it easier to find.”  

Kahre says it’s important to think of this as an ongoing project, and he says “ideally, it will outlive us.”  The official launch will be in August 2016 and the collection of QR codes will become an electronic poetry anthology.  

The QR codes will be markers made of durable material, like plastic or aluminum. “They’re small like a postage stamp or a business card. We don’t want to clutter the natural environment with them. It also means you get to hunt for them a little. Geocaching creates an interesting opportunity to create a window from the outside and record from the inside. It comes in many shapes and sizes. This is only the beginning. Look at the phenomenon of Pokemon Go.”

With the geocaching aspect, Kahre says it’s important to create a sense of a communal project that’s cumulative and grows over time and to make it accessible to people in the community, as well as outside the community. 

“You’ll use the phone to look at the map and see if there is something around you. It can be anywhere or anything. There could be a QR code at the expresso machine at the Hive. Let your imagination roam. It can be a vista or a path. It can be an object or something in the community. In some significant way, it’s a portrait of us as we try to make a life here.” 

Kahre has been on Gabriola on and off for the last 20 years, originally coming from Germany. He visited Guelph, Ontario, and decided that he liked Canada. He also had an aunt who lived here, and his family bought a plot on Gabriola 20 years ago and built a cabin, and later a house. He is at once a poet, an artist and a musician, with a passion for drumming and has a grand set of drums, cymbals and percussion instruments in his studio.

Kahre hopes that submissions will be published in a catalogue four times a year. “I’m passionate about making the work of others accessible.” For 10 years Kahre ran Front Magazine in Vancouver, published by the Western Front, an artists-run centre that was distributed internationally. 

He hopes the QR Anthology will provide a conduit for people who enjoy the process of making art and are less concerned about making a permanent masterpiece. 

“The idea of focusing on developing language between us, the ways we are a community and where everyone fits is necessary for the island to thrive. My fear is we will lose our sense of connection between all of us. A project like this can help up with that.” 

Submit to the QR Anthology at http://info63236.wix.com/qranthology. Your work will be added to an online collection. Anyone with a smartphone will be able to see or listen to your work at the location if they scan the code.