Meet the man making art from QR codes

Trevor Jones in his studio in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

Trevor Jones in his studio in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

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If you were reading this blog in our Thursday Arts magazine rather than online, you would see a square box with a QR code in it at the bottom of the page. It looks like a cross between a screen grab from a retro video game and a printing error.

Now, don’t ask me how this works because I have absolutely no idea, but if you have a smartphone with an app like NeoReader or similar installed on it, you can use this code to access the Scotsman Arts Blog almost instantly. No need to fire up your search engine and type out www.scotsman.com/artsblog - typing is so last season.

Simply wave your phone over the code until it emits a digital “bong,” then touch the screen where it says “open” and behold: you will have arrived at this smorgasboard of top quality arts journalism in a matter of seconds.

There is, to put it mildly, some debate at the moment about whether QR codes are harbingers of a hi-tech publishing future where print and digital will become ever more seamlessly connected, or a complete waste of time. The jury’s still out. In the meantime, Edinburgh-based artist Trevor Jones has embraced the technology wholeheartedly and is launching what must surely be the most technologically advanced set of oil paintings ever produced next month, as part of the Union Gallery’s Edinburgh festival exhibition.

One of Jones’s paintings, Eardley, is an abstract image using a distinctly Joan Eardley-esque palette. On the surface it works simply as a modern-day tribute to one of the greatest Scottish artists of the 20th century. Scan it with your smartphone, however, and you will be transported to the website scottishabstract.com, where you can read a short biography of Eardley and also examine some of Jones’s other QR tribute paintings: Nasmyth, Peploe and Raeburn.

If, like me, all of the above is frying your noodle somewhat, you may wish to take a short break before reading on, because there’s an extra layer of techie complication coming up. Scottishabstract.com isn’t simply a showcase for Jones’s own art - it’s also an open access gallery where anyone who wants to can post their own work. Or, at least, digital images of their own work.

Next to Jones’s QR paintings at the Union Gallery there will be a slideshow of all the artwork added to the site, making it - potentially, at least - one of the biggest exhibitions in the city this August. There are already over 200 artworks on the site, and if you see one you like, either on the website or in the exhibition, which runs from 7 August to 9 September, you can buy it via the gallery (who, incidentally, are selling all the work on a commission-free basis.) Of course, making something open access is by no means any guarantee of quality, but then again, it didn’t do the Fringe any harm.

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