In our second tutorial for MEDA102, we learnt a bit more about the different forms of codes, such as the QR code. More specifically, however, we learnt more the history of the fax machine, and were required at the end of the class, to fax and receive specific images, without speaking. The challenge was to see whether our group could encode something using only a sound-making device.
The first task of the lesson was to research one of the forms of code provided on the MEDADADA site. Our group chose the QR code (Quick Response Code) which is particularly prevalent in the advertising industry. Additionally, the QR is also commonly used nowadays to scan electronic tickets, particularly for concerts. The QR code was created by DENSO WAVE (a division of DENSO CORPORATION) in 1994, and was originally adopted by the auto industry for use in their electronic Kanban. The conventional one dimensional barcodes used on virtually every consumer product are mechanically scanned. That is, they’re read by physically bouncing a narrow beam of light onto the code, which can be interpreted using the pattern of light reflected off the white gaps between the lines.
The prospect of undertaking the human fax machine task was initially very daunting and also quite amusing, as some of the other groups were all creating their own sound-based codes and also recreating famous tunes through their instruments.
The biggest problem for our group was trying to distinguish different sounds for each shape that needed to be drawn. For example, if we wanted to draw a curved line, we decided to represent through a high-pitched crescendo. However, as we started testing these various codes, it started to become very confusing and as time went by we were starting to run out of time.
When the time came to communicate an image, it was initially quite successful. However, as the images became more detailed, it took much longer for the other group to draw the image. Additionally, hearing the sounds of other human fax machines made it much more difficult for our group to distinguish our sound device from the rest, which then led to difficulties in communicating the image to the other group. This issue was also prevalent when our group attempted to draw the image communicated by the opposite group.
Undertaking this task made me realize how important language, as channel of communication, really is.