29 Mar 2012
White City is a new art work by Anna Barham created for White City Underground station as part of Art on the Underground’s Central line series.
The work is in two parts: a series of posters at the station and a series of directly related video works to be viewed online.
Please click on the map above to see the posters and watch the video works.
Visitors to the station will see the posters in its passageways. Many feature seemingly identical pixelated squares. These increasingly commonplace symbols are Quick Response, or QR, codes, a type of barcode or graphic data storage device. They carry information that can be accessed with appropriate reader software and a smartphone.
For this new work, Barham has exploited the functional aspect and the form of the QR code, but has inserted images in place of the solid colour of which the codes are usually made up. The effect has apparently been to ‘corrupt’ the images, though it is still possible to discern the range of scenes they depict. They are all taken from journeys along the Central line, including interiors of stations and train carriages, design details and close-ups of the Eduardo Paolozzi mosaics at Tottenham Court Road Underground station.
Taking White City station and the Central line as subject and substance, White City continues Barham’s longstanding interest in the processes of constructing meaning through language, whose malleable aspects she often further explores through anagrams. From the letters of the station’s name emerges the word Tyche, the Greek goddess of chance and fortune, who becomes the main figure of the project.
White City comprises multiple elements that the viewer can assemble and reassemble in order to make their own ‘route’ through the work and draw their own conclusions. Barham’s exploration and manipulation of the QR codes is a development of her interest in text and language and its flexible, imprecise nature, which she uses like a building material that can be constantly reconfigured into new combinations that make sense in a plurality of ways.
Tamsin Dillon, Head of Art on the Underground, said: “I’ve been intrigued and excited by Anna’s proposal since she first talked to us about it – particularly the way she is using very new technology in the form of QR codes as works of art in themselves and as a vehicle to take the viewer to the films she has made for the project. I’m sure people will enjoy the multiple layers of this work, from the anagrams of all the stations on the Central line to the subtle images embedded in the posters at White City station”.
Find out more about Art on the Underground's Central line series