Guillermo Bert: Encoded Textiles explores the latest generation of bar codes (QR codes), their capacity to hold 200 times more information than traditional bar codes, and the graphic similarities between the bar codes and the textiles of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. A Los Angeles-based artist who was born in Chile, Bert uses high-tech software and industrial processes to transcribe the stories, poems, and narratives of six influential leaders of indigenous communities into QR codes, which are then re-created into tapestries by weavers from those communities. Click here to view these QR codes and read their embedded text.
The exhibition examines technology, language, cultural heritage, and capitalism seeking to open a dialogue about the effects of globalization on the world’s indigenous population. Bert’s innovative use of an advanced technology is to record the history of a marginalized culture, so that these stories do not fade away. The tapestries from these communities are traditionally filled with symbols and images with meaning, but have not included full stories such as the ones preserved and archived as part of Encoded Textiles. Inspired by the bar code’s universality, Bert translates political, religious, social, and artistic entities into patterns of elongated vertical bands woven into tapestries. The tapestries are created with natural wool and dyes that are either made, bought or traded locally, using different sized threads, stitching techniques and distinctive colors.
Guillermo Bert was born in Chile in 1959, studied art at the Catholic University of Santiago and then relocated to reside in Los Angeles. For the past two decades his art has been widely exhibited and collected by numerous museums in the United States and South America. Bert was Art Director for the Los Angeles Times for five years and taught mixed media art at Art Center School of Design in Pasadena, California (2000–2005).
This exhibition is supported by Orrin Addis, Karen and Ted Coyne, Michael Weber, Carrie Adrian, and the PMCA Board of Directors.
Ancestral Spirit, 2012. Wool and natural dyes encoded with Aztec bar code, 96 x 50 in. Woven by Anita Paillamil, photo by Ronald Dunlap
Using Guillermo Bert's Encoded Textiles as a point of inspiration, 4th grade-level Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) students completed weaving projects as part of My Masterpieces: Discovering Art in My Community. My Masterpieces is an award-winning program of the Pasadena Educational Foundation, in partnership with Pasadena Unified School District and ten museums and arts organizations. To learn more and to view student work, click here.