Los Angeles based Chilean artist Guillermo Bert has found a new use for QR (quick response) codes, to raise awareness of the plight of Mapuche of southern Chile. The artist is using the little black and white boxes of pixels that encode links and codes to preserve the identity and traditions of Mapuche, Chile’s largest indigenous population.

Bert believes that the QR codes have serious political and cultural connotations. He foresees that individuals might be reduced to a digital identity and assigned a binary code. It would be easy for these codes to become lost or stolen, much like the experience of many indigenous people.

Bert noticed a similarity in the QR codes and the traditional Mapuche text in the form of geometric patterns. He has been interested in linguistics and the disappearing of native languages. As a result the past year has seen him travelling from The States to Chile and recording the narratives of the Mapuche leaders as well as native poems and tales.

Six stories were then encoded into bar codes. Traditional Mapuche women have woven them into textiles that can be scanned by any smartphone.

“The weaving is so low-tech — the loom, the traditional techniques, the pure wool that comes straight from the sheep, the colors dyed by hand,” Bert says “The collision between the two technologies creates this hybrid that I think is very representative of what’s going on in the world today in terms of globalization creating multiple layers of culture.”

The project titled Encoded Textiles featured in upcoming film, Coded Stories which was funded through Kickstarter.

Image and quote sourced from Wired.com