The Carolan Guitar will showcase a distinctive new technology called Aestheticodes which can be used to make interactive patterns to decorate all manner of everyday artefacts – in this case an acoustic guitar. A good starting point for thinking about aestheticodes is to picture a common QR Code. QR codes encode information, typically the address of a webpage, in a visual code. A person then points a camera, usually on their smartphone, at the code in order to scan it and read or activate the information.
Aestheticodes are a bit like QR codes in that you can scan them to read information. However, they can be designed to be aesthetically beautiful like the fish example above that was created by our designer Liz Jeal. Importantly, you can create your own aestheticodes by following a simple set of drawing rules (which involve creating the right structure and number of ‘blobs’ within connections ‘regions’ and then hiding these within the rest of the image). You can watch Steve explaining aestheticodes in this video the Computerphile YouTube channel.
You can also try the technique for yourself by following the tutorial and downloading the reader app for the Aestheticodes website. Go on have a go – it’s really simple, creative and a great deal on fun once you figure it out. Anyway, the long and short of it is that the potential aesthetic beauty of these aestheticodes combined with their natural fit with traditional craft skills such as drawing, engraving and inlaying, make them the ideal technique for enhancing a traditional acoustic instrument with digital interactivity.
Our aim is therefore to build a bespoke handmade acoustic guitar that is decorated with aestheticodes that can then be read by an app so as to tell you its lifestory. We want our guitar to be digitally augmented and yet to also standalone as a beautiful and functional object in its own right.