For 'Encoded Textiles' at a Pasadena museum, Guillermo Bert distilled tales into 'QR' code, which was then woven into textiles that can be scanned and read.
By Hugh Hart
Bert, a Chilean native who moved to the United States in 1981, showcases this unlikely synchronicity at the Pasadena Museum of California Art's "Guillermo Bert: Encoded Textiles" through Feb. 24. The exhibition features blankets that render tribal lore as contemporary "QR" code.
Framed by astronomical iconography and X-shaped symbols representing the healing canelo plant, each textile piece centers on a story by one of the Mapuche villagers that Bert interviewed during a series of visits to southern Chile two years ago. He then condensed each transcript and scanned the resulting 20-word story into a device that turns text into bar codes. Blown up and printed out, those checkerboards-on-acid served as templates for Chilean weaver Anita Paillamil, who re-created the abstract patterns on blankets approximately 4 by 8 feet. (The pieces will go on sale after the exhibition finishes its run.)
Bert, who produced murals for the NoHo Arts District, has used Universal Product Code patterns as the basis for his own paintings. With "Encoded," he's working with bar code in a different way by exploiting its data-storage capability to preserve tribal traditions.
Below: "Guillermo Bert literally weaves ancient folklore into tapestries with the help of Chilean weaver Anita Paillamil." (Ronald Dunlap)