WHITE CITY was an 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: Posters at the station and a series of video works to be viewed online.
Please click on the map above to see the posters and watch the video works.
The posters were displayed in the station’s 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 work, Barham 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.