Posted to the Ethnos Project by on April 15th, 2013

About Coded Stories

From the Coded Stories website: “An indigenous people, struggling to preserve their traditions. An artist, looking to merge the oldest creative traditions and the newest technologies, while calling attention to the indigenous of his native country. The Coded Stories Project will use an artist’s unique work to look at this little-known group in Chile, while raising issues of loss of identity, globalization, and modernization that affect all of us.

coded_storiesNumbering around 600,000, the Mapuche are the largest indigenous population in Chile. They were the only indigenous group in the Americas not to be defeated by the Spanish, and have retained the identity as a distinct group in more remote reaches of southern Chile. However, they have faced the loss of some of their traditions, and a severe decline in the number of speakers of their language, Mapudungun, and tellers of their stories. Meanwhile, many Mapuche still live in their traditional lifestyle, through agriculture and jewelry making, specializing in silver. Mapuche women still craft their remarkable textiles in the generations-old manner, weaving patterns of intricate geometric shapes that almost bear a relationship to … bar codes?

Artist Guillermo Bert, an immigrant to Los Angeles from Chile, strives to create contemporary work that is both aesthetically challenging and addresses issues relevant to our time. Fascinated with the idea of encrypting messages in his work, he has investigated the levels of meaning of bar codes and their relationship to values, capitalism, and society for five years. The use of bar codes raises the issue of the enormous influence that these contemporary encoding devices have in the storage of information and the encoding of identity in our highly technological world. With these technologies our identities are digitized and in the process often stolen or lost – parallel, perhaps, to the identities often lost by indigenous people or immigrants – a process which the artist is trying to reverse through his own artistic use of the same technologies.”

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