The entertaining barcode!
Updated: Jul 23, 2021
The quirky, entertaining world of barcode art, apps, bands, symphonies, tattoos, tombstones and beyond.
Barcodes are boring?
Not according to Leo van der Veen, software developer and artist who created Barcodas, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyLj9xQiG7s an app for iPhone that converts everyday barcodes, into music. The app works on any EAN-13 or UPC-A barcode. When scanned, the app interprets the lines of the barcode as different notes, each barcoded digit being mapped onto one of eight notes in the C major scale. “To make the barcodes sound more interesting, I decided the 0’s would be rests, [so that] rhythms are generated,” he added. “The 9 equals the D note, only an octave higher.”
You can even alter the harmonic scale and tempo creating melodic tunes from the most mundane of purchases and then share your barcode masterpieces on social media!
Van der Veen ventured: "Imagine walking into a supermarket filled with thousands of tunes to discover [a] supermarket symphony." Magnificent and one way of taking the drudge out of grudge grocery shopping.
If you enjoy the idea of musical barcodes, Korean designer Ha Lim Lee and graphic designer Woo Jin Kanh, teamed up to produce what's called the "Barcode Band” which creates instrumentals through the use of programmed barcodes. Each barcode represents a different instrument, say an electric guitar, drums, or cymbals. A series of scanners is used to compose music by looping notes to produce melodies. By scanning barcodes one by one you can compose your own track experiencing music in a truly novel way! Have a look at the ‘barcode band‘ video https://vimeo.com/41132461
Techo more your bag? Japanese musician/artist Ei Wada, aka Crab Feet, rebuilds and repurposes old electrical appliances, rendering innovative musical instruments. Working with the group Electronicos Fantasticos, modified barcode scanners are used to scan various lined patterns, (as with the familiar scanning of barcodes in retail), creating the familiar techno beats. Wada has not revealed much about how the device actually works, simply stating that the scanner ‘generates sound by connecting the scanned signal to an audio output’. Have a look at these fun YouTube videos of the barcoders jamming - and scratching!
If musical barcodes don’t rock your world, how about barcoding yourself? Barcode Artist Scott Blake, whom we’ve met before in our blog “The art of barcodes” https://www.barcodeireland.ie/post/the-art-of-barcodes, has developed a web app (available on BarcodeArt) that converts your personal data into a unique barcode. Scott has developed an algorithm that rather comically uses the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of your location and your Body Mass Index (BMI), gender, etc. that when scanned will calculate your worth as a dollar value. An example of a readout might be; “Disclaimer! Human beings are not merely worth somewhere between one cent and 10 dollars.” Scott describes ‘Barcode Yourself’ as laying “out a fresh absurdity in the modern world of consumerism.”
Simply click on this link to barcode yourself http://www.barcodeart.com/Yourself.html
For the tech-savvy and perhaps the more morbid amongst us, how about a QR barcode epitaph on your Headstone? In Japan and now trending in other countries, QR (Quick Response) codes are a common sight on Tombstones. Developed by the aptly named Japanese gravestone maker Ishi no Koe ("Voice of the Stone") the two-dimensional barcodes are embedded into the stone. When scanned by a cellphone, visitors will be directed to a website and able to view photos, videos and other information about the lives of the deceased.
If tattoos are your 'freedom of expression', how about a hidden QR barcode - on your skin? The field, largely referred to as bio-hacking, is a combination of body modification and technology. The first animated ink was created by Parisian tattoo artist Karl Marc. Marc recreated a QR code inside a blooming flower that was tattooed on a volunteer’s chest. The QR code when scanned and decoded by smartphones then searches for the embedded website and plays back a video that depicts the finished design, revealing in this instance, an animated singer.
We hope you found these quirky uses for barcodes both interesting and entertaining.
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