Through the use of QR codes, viewers will be able to scan an array of multicolored plaques to receive a virtual history lesson at the Museum of Boulder’s new multimedia exhibit titled “Right on!.”
At the outdoor exhibit, viewers will be able to interact with a series of painted plaques, each of which feature a different date, ranging from the 1800s to now. Viewers can choose to scan QR codes imprinted on the corners of each plaque, receiving information on their phones about America’s long history of injustice.
“Right on!” is the product of Angie Eng, a Boulder-based artist pursuing a Ph.D in intermedia arts at CU Boulder. Eng has dabbled in different mediums of art over the course of her career, including experimental video, performance art and electronic art. She decided on an interactive installation format for “Right on!” as a way to “have immediate information in a very small amount of space.”
Eng, who often remixes pre-existing media in her own work, used this format for “Right on!” as a means of calling back to Japanse artist On Karawa’s “Today” series, a collection of paintings with different dates that allow the viewer to project their own meaning based on personal experiences. However, for Eng’s own take on this series, the dates she chose to paint come from thoughtful deliberation.
Each date corresponds to a different civil rights case from American history, with topics ranging from race relations to internet privacy. For “Right on!” Eng felt strongly about focusing on social justice following the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that emerged across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
“I think we also have a responsibility and deciding to use our talent for more than just expression,” she said. “It was an educational project where I felt compelled as an artist and a person of color.”
Despite the wide-ranging nature of the content of”Right on!,” Eng chose to paint each plaque a different skin tone as a way to centralize the project over the most common injustice, race.
“I do believe because of our history as a nation, we reduce everything to race. There are so many more problems than just race in our country, but that’s our history,” Eng said.
Eng hopes that the minimal nature of the single-colored plaques will give people an “abstract space” to gather information and come to their own conclusions about each topic.
“I’m not putting so much judgement in it. I have the Patriot Act in there. There’s some people who really support that, or the Muslim Ban. But it’s also not so just for many groups,” she said, speaking of the philosophy behind the project’s format, which only imparts the civil rights case’s name on the viewer’s phone and nothing more. “They have to reflect on where they stand personally with that case, because I don’t give them the answer.”
In a tumultuous year globally, and particularly within the United States, “Right on!” serves as a way for people to come to terms with everything going on around them and find a sense of purpose amidst the chaos. Eng says “Right on!” has an “educational component, but it’s also a dialogue.”
“It’s really to motivate people to reflect on where they’re at. If you’re geared towards justice for all, then you really have to take that position,” Eng explained. Am I really justice for all, or am I just justice for my family, or who I identify with? Do I really have justice for the other?”
Eng’s “Right on!” exhibit will be viewable from now through Tuesday, Nov. 3, on the exterior of the Museum of Boulder. More information can be found here. The proceeds from museum plaques sold will benefit a food drive for elementary students affected by school closures throughout Boulder County. More information can be found here.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Arts Editor Ben Berman at email@example.com.