Aug 21, 2008

Barcoding People (...meanwhile...)

I am in Buenos Aires since the 16th and I have already found enough material to blog for six months. But I still have to take pictures, download them, scan some other things, etc., so it may take me a couple of days to start posting about the creative side of this city.

Meanwhile, let's spotlight a designer's work and play "barcoding" people...

While visiting the site of a Canadian designer (Valerie Madill) I came across a drawing she made as part of a pretty common creative exercise in any school, being it the challenge of creating a symbol for someone else.

Because she found that the person she had to represent was "...a very strong, independent individual. She does not follow the norm and thinks for herself. Favourite books and publications at the time indicated strong anti-consumerism and activist views, though she came off as very polite and subtle..." she came up with this drawing that she named... "Barcode escape"

It instantly made me think of what could be an interesting design challenge, something I am calling "Barcoding people". Simply put, if you have to create a barcode to represent a friend, how would that barcode be?
It is an exremely simple and complex challenge at the same time. I tried it myself by creating two barcodes, one for my husband and the other for me.

This is the one for my husband.

It may look like nothing special, but it represents a strong side of him. As an Engineer and a developer, he has a serious love for symmetry, love that (as you may infer seeing my own barcode) is difficult for me to grasp.

Of course there is more about him than just symmetry and some type of order, but being those clear personality traits, they seemed adequate to be the main thing of his barcode. At the end of the day the symbol represents a point of view about the other...

And here is my barcode:

As you can tell I am not a very neat person, but more importantly I do not value order too much. I find some level of chaos very useful, as its capacity to "surprise" allows you to make connections that order does not. As I have said before I truly believe that chaos is underrated.

But I also like riddles and things that are not apparent to the eye. My barcode includes those things too and it is up to you to solve the puzzle that it's in there.

Last but not least, I invite you to try doing your own barcode. Try it as a game and see where your creativity takes you. If you like the result, send it to me so we can publish it here. Email the image and a short description of why that barcode represents you (or your other half or your kid or a friend). Just make sure it has only lines and numbers as most barcodes have.

For now, just take it as a challenge among friends, without any official prize. However, if we get enough barcodes I will make sure we can have some small gifts to the best ones…, nothing fancy or big, but something with a cool design from Buenos Aires.

One way or the other, you may find out that the best prize is the barcode itself. Not everybody can say that they have their own unique barcode symbol!

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