Ruben Anton Komangapik: Technology meets tradition in unique QR code sculptures

Ruben Anton Komangapik: Technology meets tradition in unique QR code sculptures

Posted 3 November 2014 by Ruben Anton Komangapik

Ruben Anton Komangapik is an Inuit artist who recently completed a unique project that bridged traditional and digital technologies to share personal stories across generations and across the world. We asked him to tell us a bit about his project.

Ruben carved QR codes into traditional materials. Scanning them with a mobile phone opens a YouTube video in which Ruben recounts a story of traditional Inuit life. Left: Qilalugaq: narwhal tusk, sterling silver, polar bear claws, spermhale tooth, muskox horn, blood stone (3' H); right: Nattiqmut: harp seal skin, antique steel, bronze, sterling silver, nylon rope, wax nylon (6 feet L)

The idea of putting QR code in my art work came about by discussing it with my wife, Estelle Marcoux Komangapik.

I really like the idea of incorporating the QR code in my art work. It brings the past to the present.

In the past knowledge was transmitted by eye, mouth and ear. We had no writing system. Also art work was used to show images of a story.

The QR code is a way to tell a legend or a story traditionally, using technology. There is no need to use written language.

I finished these pieces in Inuvik at the Great Northern Arts Festival. This type of art work had never been seen there before. A lot of people found it pretty cool to see the QR code incorporated in my art work. At this point of time I still have never seen it done by anyone else.

I was able to make a QR code out of sterling silver, with the help of my wife. I also made a QR code using a traditional method, scrimshawing on to a sperm whale tooth, and on a caribou antler. The last one was an experiment that worked – I used seal skin, and plucked the fur off the seal skin to make the code. All of these works brought you to me telling the story on YouTube.

I think technology is a great tool, for educational and art purposes.

Thank you for your time.



Ruben Anton Komangapik

About the Author: Ruben Anton Komangapik

Ruben Anton Komangapik, Inuit jeweller, sculptor, carver, metalworker, performing artist and musician, is fully engaged and enriched by art. He is best known for his unique jewelry and metalwork as well as his expressive sculptures. For creative energy, Ruben draws on his imagination, environment, Inuit traditions and early life experiences. Each piece he makes has a unique birth, taking from 15 minutes to several months to complete. Ruben is a member of the Metal Guild of Canada and currently lives with his family in Gaspésie, Quebec.

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