The growing popularity (and acceptance by the mainstream) of street art has turned the form into a favorite subject of smartphone photographers. But a beloved project in Berlin allows passersby to use their phones to interact with public art not just as voyeurs, but as possessors of a missing puzzle piece needed to unlock the work.
QRadio, by Berlin-based street artist Sweza, is an image of a boom box plastered on a wall with a QR code in the tape deck. If you hold your phone’s QR reader up to it, a cassette will show up on the phone and play a track from the speakers. It’s a cute gesture that links the cassette tape culture favored by street artists with the artwork itself. And it makes a point that art in the streets can create a longer interaction than just the moment it takes to snap a picture.
The QRadio project began in 2011, and was commemorated at a show in Berlin this fall, along with Sweza’s other QR-based street art project Graffyard, which preserves graffiti by photographing it before police remove it, placing a QR code with an image of the graffiti in the exact spot it once sat: a digital memorial.