A History of Things I Once Had

Ted Whitaker & Rachel H. Allan

20 October 2014 - 30 November 2014


A History of Things I Once Had is a work that combines digital technology with an analogue interface. Whitaker and Allan have created an augmented reality (AR) channel that is accessed when the viewer scans the Silver Gelatin QR code (or barcode) with their smartphone. The phone, and therefore the technology, becomes a window into ‘another’ space.  

The QR code has been produced with a delicate chemical process that requires a photographic emulsion to be coaxed by hand across the primed surface. This interface juxtaposes and compliments the smartphone screen and Wifi network component of the work, merging longstanding photographic processes with twenty-first century technology. Audiences are presented with a layering of ‘windows’ through the phone, the QR code and the Gallery’s Rear Window exhibition space itself. 

The exclusive digital layer invites the audience to access a further mediated pathway (’another’ space). Once accessing the AR the virtual component is presented as a collage of floating digital images pasted onto a live camera view of Moray Place. The artists have consciously made the digital experience clunky, rough and heavily media dependent. It is a stark contrast to the precise and highly refined printing of the code itself; and a comment on the technology the QR code promised and the overall failure in its effectiveness. 

The AR component can be accepted or realised by the viewer and/or negated or disregarded, as the experience is only accessible via specific technology and the knowledge of how to access it. This work heavily interrogates and comments on the over indulgence of, and reliance on, smartphones and screens, especially in a gallery or museum setting. Whitaker and Allan have looked at the QR code critically: as a design cliché; digital icon; and as a privileged insight into an often-mysterious hyperlink of propaganda. 

Please Note: Your smartphone must be equipped with a QR code reader/scanner app to access the AR element of this work. 

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