I’ve recently spotted  a number of QR code stickers in Toronto — that, rather than the typical seemingly random pixelated-grid, feature a smiling face.

I’ve been vibing on QR codes recently — they are a very early model of linking the physical world to the internet, a first attempt at digitizing our reality, the first of many, to be sure. The QR code is the symbol of this new hyperlinked internet-geography. I also like the aesthetic of the QR code — it’s somewhat unrefined, very raw, indicative of this very early stage of internet-physical space.

With this series of QR codes featuring faces (or QaRt codes), the codes, in fact, do not link to anything. And because of this, they offer a blip in contemporary reality as-we-know-it. They offer a moment to consider the utter strangeness, the newness of our increasingly digital physical reality.

They are also a moment of culture-jamming and subvertizing.

The QR code, so far, is essentially a tool for marketing, facilitating the link between an ad, and that product/service/contest’s website. The QaRt code is a moment where an individual, sick of constantly being barraged with ads not of their choosing, has taken the visual form of the urban environment into their own hands, and by twisting a trope of contemporary marketing, subverts it — especially with that coy, smiling face.

These QaRt codes, they’ve incorporated all my interests: cities, art and the interent.

I look forward to spotting more.