AIGA Space and a proxy exhibit of QR codes and GIFs

Arts / Article

The AIGA Space in Old City seems strangely devoid of art this month, but that is not due to a lack of content. April serves as AIGA’s month to step outside of the cube of white walls and explore a slightly different method: an almost entirely digital, web-based show entitled “Animate!”

Clearly the focus of this exhibit curated by Nicole Koenitzer is animation and digital art; however, the space is mostly filled with the static of black and white squares that form QR Codes. Overlapping with Philly Tech Week, the show is brimming with bar codes that allow users to immerse themselves in moving images from the web or with the help of a smartphone.

QR Codes make up most of the exhibit at AIGA – prompting users to actively seek out the art.

Technophiles and fans of glitches or GIFs will find themselves right at home watching the pixels twist and turn on the accompanying monitors or their own devices. In a way, the whole event isn’t all that far from a scavenger hunt as visitors find themselves blindly scanning boxes in order to see what lies on the other end. Sure, you can visit the website to see the inclusions, but the element of mystery at the physical location changes the environment into a challenge.

Anna Tas, "Son of Man."

Anna Tas, “Son of Man.”

One work in the gallery doesn’t require a scanner: “Son of Man” by Anna Tas. Here, the nostalgia for youth, plastic 3D images, and a reference to art’s great master of concealing and revealing, René Magritte, are all tied into one recognizably image of a floating apple in front of an otherwise unassuming, suited figure.

Slogging through the actual images themselves can be a bit tedious, but the results range from a simple, interactive ghost hunt by Michelle Macinsky to the trippy circles-of-circles that change with every click by Danniel Gaidula. There are crazy distorted pixel patterns by Tyler Kline and a figurative slant on the same theme by Crystal L. Beiersdorfer. Many of these pieces are simple, and many of them are throwbacks to the terrible HTML sites of Internet past, but that is what makes them so charming. However at least one artist, Kevin Dietrich, looks ahead, pleading us to end the fad of hashtags for our own collective sanity.

Videos also make an appearance amidst the fray, like the short pencil animation “Ice Cream Test” by Ellen Marcus, which shows a group of kids waiting for an ice cream truck. As soon as the signature music plays and the truck leaves, the children are all rendered obese and promptly collapse. Paired with Lord Whimsy’s “Childe Quentin,” a short of surreal imagery and absurd mirth, the tiny films complement their soundless cousins like the winking geisha by Gary Koenitzer.

Ultimately, “Animate!” is better experienced and perused than described, and although Philly Tech Week is finished, AIGA Space will be letting you scan their walls for roughly another week, when the show comes to an end on April 30.

AIGA Space is located at 72 North 2nd St., Philadelphia; [email protected]; philadelphia.aiga.org.