In collaboration with kasa. kaisin Zurich and The Artling, the young Swiss artist Giorgiana Theiler shows her QR-UIOUS series to raise awareness for mental health. Inspired by many facets of her own journey, and obviously the pandemic, her artworks play with the visible and the invisible, with technology and light.
Giorgiana’s work epitomizes the finer detail usually concealed from the naked eye but made visible through technology. Colorful QR Codes to the naked eye – lightened up by a camera flash, positive affirmations appear on these QR codes. In implementing this method, she wishes to add her contribution to the enhancement of personal well-being. She draws her influential energy and inspiration from visual artists such as Gerard Richter, Felipe Pantone, and cultural artist Jeff Koons.
I met Giorgiana for the opening of her show in Zurich and spoke with her about her works, her inspiration, mental health and more:
“I love not sticking to one medium and just trying different things. When working I always ask this question “how can I enhance personal-well being through digital technology”. I am all about making people feel better. I always try to lift them up and help out as much as I can so I try to portray this in my art too. The pandemic also had a big impact on where I am today because my way of thinking was impacted by the pandemic because everything I had encountered throughout my interactive course had been done with touch, so I had to take a different approach. How could I “touch” the people by making an interactive and fun yet meaningful piece of art?” Theiler says.
“Yes, my work deals with mental health through the hidden affirmations that you can access by taking a photo with flash. As soon as you take a picture with flash, you will see the affirmations. Each colour has a different meaning and each affirmation relates to the colour. I use affirmations every day to help with my mental state, they are all over my rooms. I thought it would be interesting to make a piece of art that not only fills up a space in a room but also becomes something you look back on often to remind yourself to take care of your mental health because sometimes people forget to do that for themselves.”
“My inspiration for the QR series came from when I was in class at RCA and a student kept on talking about barcodes. When I was searching for barcodes on google, QR codes came up. I was immediately drawn to it because it was an interesting form of an abstract object, yet you can interact with it with your phone. Since my course at the RCA was all about experimenting with different materials and technology, I loved that QR codes had an interactive component, which brought me back to the interactive design aspect of my course. Then came the pandemic, and QR codes started popping up everywhere. While being in lockdown I was watching a master class on Jeff Koons and a bunch of interviews on him during that period. I found myself constantly thinking about what he said about his art, that he creates an experience using old objects or characters that most of us are familiar with from our childhood. Since this has the most symbolic memories, many people will be more drawn to it because they have experienced it in their own lives. This is where it kind of “clicked” for me. QR codes were now becoming the new “thing” we all had to do. We all had to scan for a menu, scan to pay our parking tickets and certificates that would give us our “freedom” were QR codes. So naturally, I thought it could be an interesting design to work with, But of course, it couldn’t just be a QR code. During all of this, I was having therapy sessions. Mental health started becoming a topic a lot of people were suffering with, including myself. So during my sessions, I thought it could be interesting to incorporate mental health with a QR code as these were two big topics that were related too in the Covid-19 pandemic.
I thought back to an interactive material that I had used in my course that when you would take a photo with your flash it would light up. These two combinations would work well together as you need a phone to scan the QR code and you need a phone for the material to light up. The material when I tested it couldn’t really be seen on paint which is what I loved because it relates to the fact that mental health can be quite a sensitive topic for a lot of people and I didn’t want my text to be so prominent but rather subtle. So the QR would be representing the time when the world changed and became “dark”. The light emitted affirmations will relate to that even in the darkest of times happiness is possible and can be found.”
“I want viewers to take away this: you never know what someone else is going through, check in with them occasionally, take care of your mental state, not just your physical state, and never assume you need to know about art in order to enjoy it. I want the viewers to feel excited and stimulated when the words appear, interact with the piece, and by doing that hopefully, my affirmations on my pieces give them a little bit of light in their day.”
*Theiler is a young South African-Italian-Swiss Artist living in Zurich, Switzerland. She graduated with a BA Hons in Communication Design with a pathway in Photography in 2018. She was scouted by a professor at the Royal College of Art, London and subsequently completed a Masters degree in Information Experience Design in 2020.
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