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Ashmolean Museum exhibition utilises smartphone technology
IT has taken 335 years, but the Ashmolean is holding its first major contemporary art exhibition with a technological twist.
Selected works from Chinese artist Xu Bing are on display until May 19 and feature a range of landscape paintings constructed from Chinese characters.
But for the first time, visitors can find out more about the themes and people behind the works by scanning QR codes next to the artwork with their smartphones.
These codes will take visitors to a website full of exclusive interviews, images and narration.
Curator of the Xu Bing Landscape Landscript exhibition, Shelagh Vainker, said: “The QR codes are very appropriate for artists like him who are so effective at communicating.”
Staff at the museum say the exhibition has encouraged younger audiences to attend since its launch last month.
Oxford and London-based interpretative planning company, City-Insights Ltd, developed the exhibition codes and believe that interactive media platforms are both attractive to younger audiences and sensible in a recession.
Company director Tim Gardom said: “It is expensive for museums to install traditional hand-held guide systems. “People are walking into a free wi-fi zone in the Ashmolean with their hi-tech phones at the ready. It makes sense to use what is already there.
“I really think QR codes are the future for museums. They have the ability to make works valid and interesting for different users.”
Mr Gardom reports that the average amount of pages read by each visitor to the QR-linked website is 10.
Oxford University student Lily Green, 20, said: “I’m personally more interested in the art itself than the multimedia content, but I can definitely see how it interests other people.
“I think the Ashmolean is awesome for younger crowds.”
Xu Bing is one of China’s most critically acclaimed artists, who has focused on the pictorial quality of the Chinese language. Four new pieces in Landscape Landscript exhibit more of his technique of using characters as brushwork.