Awaken! Flag

(2012) Flocked wall installation – Digitally-altered QR Code

The Métis (pron. may-tee) people of Canada are one of three recognised Aboriginal groups, the others being the Inuit and First Nations.  During the North American fur trade peak in the 18th and 19th centuries, the British, Scottish and French-Canadian fur traders married Inuit and First Nations women. Their children and future generations were exposed to both Catholic and Indigenous belief systems as well as English, French and First Nations languages, resulting in a new distinct Aboriginal people in Canada.  Due to their understanding of both societies and customs, the Métis helped bridge cultural gaps, while developing their own distinct language and culture.  They played a vital role in Canadian history and the success of the western fur trade due to their skills as voyageurs, buffalo hunters and interpreters, along with their knowledge of the Canadian landscape and climate.  The Métis have two flags, one red and one blue.  Emblazoned on both is the infinity symbol, representing the joining of two cultures that will live on forever and the ‘quadrille’, a traditional Métis dance where the dancers move in a figure eight.

Awaken! Flag explores the counterbalance of intermediary exchange between two disparate points through Jakob von Uexkull’s notion of the umwelt (objective/outer world) and the innenvelt (subjective/inner world.  Applied to object hyperlinking (the interactivity between the image-object and the virtual) through the use QR Code technology, only those with technical know-how or willingness to engage with the technology can access the content embedded in the code.  This in turn references the content of the artwork, which draws parallels between artists as translators and my own heritage as a descendant of Louis Riel (1844 – 1885), the political and spiritual leader of the Métis people.

QR Code Reader/Scanner Instructions

Requirements:  Smartphone or tablet equipped with a camera, Internet access and QR Code application

  1. Download a free QR Code Reader application (e.g. Qrafter, Red Laser, QR Droid, etc.)
  2. Launch application.  Your camera will be activated with an on-screed framing guide.
  3. Line up the camera on your device with the Awaken! Flag.  Hold it steady until the app can read the code.
  4. For best results, aim your device squarely at the code, and not at an angle.  Try to minimize any glare from stray light sources.

A special thank you to Roger Beattie for project assistance