Victoria Byron has just completed her second year in a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Australian National University, School of Art. Majoring in photography, she works with narrative and portraiture and has recently been exploring alternate processes and interactive instillations. She draws artistic inspiration from artists like Anne Ferran, Marion Drew, Jeff Wall, Sarah Lucas and Diane Arbus.
Vicki hopes to continue on to do Honours and then complete a Masters in marketing/advertising after completing her third year. She would like to start out in marketing and advertising and then one day work in her own practice.
Do You Love Me is inspired by the National Museum's Australian Journeys, in particular the convict love tokens exhibit. I wanted to convey how expressions of love are used in a contemporary context.
Has the true meaning of love been lost as it is devalued by the overuse of the term? Is the true meaning of love being lost in a digital age – desensitised and sanitised by virtual communication?
I believe that my generation's overuse of social networking mediums like Facebook and SMS texting etc is disassociating itself from the real emotional experience of personal face-to face communication.
Exploring this idea, I advertised a mobile phone number widely around the Australian National University campus, and also on Facebook, asking for people to send messages of love.
An archive of 300 messages of 'love' – lovey-dovey, soppy, seedy, warming and genuine, and the cold hearted, incisive break-up messages – were arranged as contemporary love tokens using Quick Response (QR) coding that references the messages using a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smart phones.
From this archive, 144 messages were processed to represent an overwhelming, nauseating and overbearing collage of contemporary love tokens, which viewers could interact with. The QR coding allowed me to relay the messages in a visual form that would only be revealed when the audience de-coded the message using their personal QR reader.
Title: Do You Love Me?
Medium: Bond paper
Dimensions: Each QR Code was 20 x 20 cm. In entirety the piece was 2.4 x 2.4 m, 144 messages.
Date: October 2010
To decode the messages in Victoria's work you will need QR Code reading software. A range of software is available here
The inspiration for Do You Love Me came from one of the cabinets in the Australian Journeys gallery, convict love tokens, at the National Museum of Australia.
Some 160,000 convicts were sent to the Australian colonies from 1788 to 1868. One of those convicts was Thomas Lock. He was convicted of highway robbery and sentenced to 10 years' transportation to New South Wales. Before Lock left England, as he waited in prison for his sentence to be carried out, he used a penny to make a token of remembrance to leave behind.
The inscription reads:
WHEN / THIS YOU / SEE / REMEMBER /
ME WHEN / I AM FAR / FROM the[e] /
THOMAS / LOCK / AGED 22 / TRANSPed /
Lock gave this memento to a loved one when he sailed for Australia. He arrived in Sydney in September 1845. It is not known if he ever returned to England.
Collector and consultant Peter Lane detailed his research on convict tokens in a presentation at the National Museum on 13 June 2009. The talk also covered the Alexander Mussen ambrotype and the Muriel McPhee trousseau.