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QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

Show RCA 2011: coded patterns on this beaded dress by Royal College of Art graduate Thorunn Arnadottir feed information to smart phones when photographed.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

The QR U? dress features graphic codes that a mobile app can recognise and translate into images, links to websites or text.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

The tribal styling references the way social networks are often described as online tribes.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

Arnadottir designed the dress for pop star Kali of Icelandic group Steed Lord using Swarovski crystals.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

She also made an eye mask that directs photographers to make a charity donation (above).

The project can be seen at Show RCA 2011 in London until 3 July.

See all our stories about Show RCA 2011 »

The text below is from Arnadottir:


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.