A photographer who specializes in nudes found a way around censorship of one of his art pieces at Fredericton city hall by using smartphone technology.

Jeff Crawford was invited to contribute to an exhibit of artworks produced during the Fredericton Arts Alliance's Artists-in-Residence summer series.

He submitted a photograph entitled Emersion, which shows a nude woman lying in a stream with one breast visible.


The QR code Jeff Crawford put up at city hall takes smartphone users to his banned nude photograph on the internet. (CBC)

"I wanted to display my work, as it is, without any changes made to it, or censorship," said Crawford.

But after the photograph was up for half a day, city officials took it down.

"We received a few complaints," said Angela Watson, cultural development officer for the city.

"And we have a few guidelines where we don't display artwork that might be offensive to some age groups, some cultures," she said, so "we thought that we should remove it."

City officials asked Crawford to submit a different piece of work.

"One sentence that really sticks in my mind is, 'Do you have anything non-naked to display?' And that got my blood boiling, pretty quick," he recalled.

Then Crawford had what he calls a "light bulb moment."


Jeff Crawford's work, entitled Emersion. (CBC)

He replaced the photograph with a framed pixilated black-and-white square, which some people thought was abstract art.

It was actually an enlarged so-called Quick Response (QR) code — a bar code-like image that can be read by a smartphone and sends the user to a link on the internet.

The link sent gallery visitors right to Crawford's image, which had been banned.

"The immediate reaction was like, 'Oh, this looks great.' So, which, you know, in my head, I was kind of giggling a little bit. But IN that scale," he said. "But in that (enlarged) scale, would you really know that it is a QR code? Because you're used to seeing them so small on products."

Still, city officials soon cracked the code.

"It was interesting," said Watson. "It was very clever. Very clever.

"If someone came around the corner and saw a QR code, that's not going to bother them," she said.

So the piece will remain on display.

Meanwhile, Watson said she's considering writing some guidelines about what type of work qualifies for the space.