Barcodes at Spokane Street Viaduct decode SoDo’s rich past

More than 200 years of SoDo’s history will be on display this month after a unique art instillation is unveiled at the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project site. The artwork, located in the lower roadway reconstruction, will be officially dedicated during a public ceremony Nov. 16 beginning at 9 a.m.

SODO, created by California-based Merge Conceptual Design artists’ Claudia Reisenberger and Franka Diehnelt, is a vast visual narrative that catalogues more than 200 years of SoDo’s history.

Created in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation, the artwork consists more than 500 painted columns. Nine different color and image schemes create separate zones that recollect the natural and cultural history of the area, the industries that flourished there, and wildlife that inhabited the site. The nine themes in SODO include (east to west): Another Man’s Treasure, Forest of Stilts, Duck-Duck-Goose, Heavy Metal, Moved Mountain, Slowheel, Cuts and Hides and Liquid Land.

Large stenciled and barcode designs adorn the concrete columns that hold up the existing and new portions of the Spokane Street Viaduct between Sixth Avenue South and East Marginal Way South. To distinguish and identify each theme within the artwork, the artists created their own unique barcodes encrypted with the name of each field (e.g., Another Man’s Treasure) for the project. The striped barcodes on the columns (viewed from westbound South Spokane Street) visually play with the corridor’s perspective beneath the viaduct and line up to create a whole barcode pattern when viewed from specific points along the roadway.