I Would Rather My Streets — Gui Machiavelli (2011)

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I Would Rather My Streets is a project by Gui Machiavelli mapping short narratives accessible through QR codes placed throughout Stockholm. It was inspired by Adam Rothstein's essay for Rhizome, City of QR Codes.

Public spaces are treasure troves of countless stories — events, memories and marks. Walking around a city, I am always tempted to know what happened in a certain spot. Look, that tree: did someone scratch his or her name there, decades ago?

I have placed some of my memories created in Stockholm in the same places they were formed. Deposited in QR Codes as a memory layer on top of the world. Small narratives, from commonplace to slightly extravagant, from confessions to puzzling moments, hints of the countless brief experiences that populate our world.

 

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City of QR Codes

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I examine bar codes, wondering what it would be like to have only laser sight. I stare at handwriting until the loops and whorls stop being words, syllables, and even letters, and become no more than manic pulses brain wave transformed into muscle twitch, traced in the seismograph of our ink-hemorrhaging prosthetic appendages. I gaze at my city streets, running my eyes over the scars on its knees, feeling a refracted rainbow of urban skin interring a personal history of human frailty. I have a polymorphously perverted sense of physical praxis with objects. It’s not that I’m more object-curious or infrastructurally dirty-minded than most; it’s just that once you start to think about what things are wearing underneath their exterior semiotic reality, it’s pretty hard to calm down. Thankfully, the city invites my oddly tactile greeting, smiling and warming to my touch. Scars are so much sexier than tattoos.

This street, this entire block, this city —its beautifully exposed skin now appears in my imagination as a square of white and black squares, each structure and topological feature raising or lowering itself against a field of contrasting color. This city is a QR code. A QR code may not be a sex symbol to you, but stretching anywhere from 21 units by 21 units in dimension to a maximum of 177 by 177, (define these imagined units as you like) my metropolis is a pixelated, hemaphroditic Vitruvian pin-up drawing, a mandala of Kama Sutra-esque data positions. I walk down the street and I decode a pattern esoteric enough to be invented by gods, ancient shamans, or extraterrestrials. Invented by us. Within these folds and plateaus we have embedded the sort of information that arouses our attentions--the kind of public-knowledge secrets we think about just behind the ...

 

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