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Scott Blake’s Impressive Bar Code Portraits

Scott Blake is one of those rare artists who use original mediums to create unique works of art, in his case bar codes. He uses them to create unique portraits of celebrities like Elvis, Madonna or Ronald Reagan.
Blake, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, began making bar code art over 12 years ago, right before Y2K, inspired by the whole year 2000 computer bug, and threatening digital apocalypse. While experimenting with halftone dot patterns, “looking for a black and white shape that could be repeated and modified to create grey tones in a digital mosaic”, he stumbled upon bar code imagery. He first tried circles and squares, then rectangles and notice the clusters of lines looked a lot like bar codes, so he started putting numbers on the bottom to describe the pixels’ grayscale value and grid coordinate.
But placing thousands of bar codes on a canvas to create a portrait is only half of Scott Blake’s work. Each of the bar codes he uses are somehow related to the person they describe. For example, when scanned each of Bruce Lee bar code plays one of the actor’s kung-fu scenes, while in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s case they play one of his movie trailers. Eventually, all of the bar codes end up in Photoshop where Scott uses Action scripts to place each code in the right mosaic tile, but even so, it takes him between two and six months to complete a portrait.















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