The Herald-Times

Bloomington artist uses latest technology in QR codes to teach visitors about his work

By Marcela Creps 331-4375 |

July 24, 2011

BLOOMINGTON — When you visit an art museum, often you will be approached by an employee who offers information on the artwork you are viewing. However, for smaller galleries or art set up in a different venue, it’s hard to get such information.

Enter QR codes.

In a current exhibit at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, artist Paul Smedberg has added QR technology so that visitors can learn more about the work and even purchase it by using a smartphone.

Quick Response codes are becoming popular additions to advertisements and are more popular outside the U.S., Smedberg said. As a website designer, Smedberg realized he could use the codes as a way to better explain his art.

“And so it’s kind of a remote-controlled Paul,” the artist explained.

The idea came from a 1970s movie where the lead character buys mineral rights to land that is rich in oil that is too deep to drill into. The main character bought the rights in anticipation of a future that would include the ability to dig deeper for oil. When that technology finally arrived, the character becomes rich.

“This technology is at that same point. It’s right where, as smartphones get into more and more people’s hands, this will become more and more easy,” Smedberg said.

When visiting the current exhibit, each piece of artwork contains a QR code. By scanning in the code, the visitor is taken to a website with that particular piece of artwork and an option to buy. Many include videos that further explain the artwork.

“You sort of get the artist as a docent,” Smedberg said.

Getting the codes was the easy part, Smedberg said. It was creating the videos and informational tidbits on the artwork for use on the website that took more time. On the opening day of the exhibit, Smedberg was still working out the technical glitches, including making the QR codes usable for older iPhones.

When Smedberg decided to attempt to use QR codes for his artwork, he knew the technology would have many more applications for other sellers. For example, it would work for someone selling a car just as easily as it would work for another artist to sell his or her work. Now that he’s been able to get the codes to work for selling and promoting art, Smedberg hopes an entrepreneur will be able to take it to the next level.

“It’s going to be universal. I just wanted to get ahead of it,” Smedberg said. “At the exhibit, I was really happy to see that it worked.”


About the art

To create his photography remixes derived from collages, Paul Smedberg begins by taking pictures of the subject from different angles. He then manipulates the photos on a computer.

“I try to take the familiar aspects and render them unfamiliar,” he said.

Smedberg will continue to arrange the shapes, using various techniques until he feels he’s refined the image.

To learn more about his art or to see some of his work, check out

If you go

“What Am I Looking At?” is Paul Smedberg’s current exhibit in the Miller Gallery of the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut St., Bloomington. The exhibit, which is on display until July 27, is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Artist Paul Smedberg has created a Web page for each of his pieces on display at Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center and has a QR code for each one connecting to his website. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

A smartphone can read the QR code Paul Smedberg has created for each of his pieces of art on display at the arts center. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

QR code for one of Paul Smedberg’s artwork.

Copyright: 2011