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Abrstraction, "Capitalist Realist", and the system
by Alessandro Imperato
Alessandro Imperato – How does your work use abstraction to represent the ‘real’?

Scott Blake – Bar codes are full of abstractions that represent ‘real’ things. The bar code on my SCAD ID represents me. SCAD first abstracted me into a number. The number is abstracted further into a series of black and white lines. And finally the lines are an abstract representation of binary code.

I = Scott Douglas Blake

Scott Douglas Blake = 000035922


BWBWWWBBWBWWBBWWBWWBWWBBWWWBBWBWWWBBWBWWWBBWBWBW BWBBBWWBWBBBWWBWBBWBBWWBWWWWWBWBBBWWBWBWBBBWWBWB = 010111001011001101101100111001011100101110010101 010001101000110100100110111110100011010100011010


I = 010111001011001101101100111001011100101110010101 010001101000110100100110111110100011010100011010

I have a hard time writing about the connection between my bar code and Paula Wallace, but that is what my portrait is all about. How do the producer and consumer relate, how the entertainer and the entertained interact, and how the leaders and the leaded work together.

SCAD ID #000035922

Code 39/Paula Wallace/SCAD IDs
Scott Blake

When I stopped seeing bar codes as bar codes and began to think of them as art, a few abstract artists came to mind: Robert Motherwell, Ellsworth Kelly, and Bridget Riley. I was fascinated how Motherwell was able use just black and white paint to express his feelings about the Spanish Civil War in a completely non-objective manner. Kelly's ultra hard edges and absolutely smooth surfaces drew me to the aesthetic of mechanical production. I have been into optical illusions since I was a kid. I like how Bridget Riley’s static paintings appear to move and there is a certain quality that makes your head ache. Riley is another artist that does it with just and black and white paint.

Robert Motherwell

Ellsworth Kelly

Bridget Riley

Mark Napier recently made a piece called "black & white" which uses the current stream of zeros and ones from to generate a complex abstract animation.

Andy Deck created a piece that translates the entire works of Shakespeare into a stream of bar codes.

Several of my bar code pieces utilize random information to create abstract bitmap imagery.
Barcode Noise -
Barcode Clock -
Barcode Yourself -

AI – Are you a ‘Capitalist Realist’ in the tradition of Andy Warhol, Yves Klein, and Sigmar Polke?

SB - This was a real tough question because I never heard of a 'Capitalist Realist' until you asked me if I was one. Rather than bluffing it, I will tell you how I view myself in relation to those artists work.

I felt a profound connection with Warhol the first time I saw his art. Warhol’s soup cans directly inspired my bar code painting series. A big difference is between these works is the production techniques. Warhol had his "Factory" where he directed other people to bang out screenprints like an art machine. I hand paint each bar code by myself in my lonesome studio. My paintings highlight the human touch in a mechanical world. Warhol's prints tried to strip away the individual artist. We both appropriated our content from popular culture. Warhol was actually the first artist to paint a bar code. I feel like I took my content from Warhol's art itself.

32 Campbell's Soup Cans
Andy Warhol

32 Bar Code Paintings
Scott Blake
2000 - Present

Below is a Sigmar Polke painting and digital self portrait I made with ecstasy pills. Some of the pills have corporate logos imprinted on them which reminds me of a Warhol drawing where he superimposed logos on a person's face.

Another interesting link is that Polke and I choose to depict Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) how was one of the US Presidents.

Mao and LGJ
Sigmar Polke

Ecstasy Self-Portrait
Scott Blake

Ecstasy Self-Portrait

Magnify Glass
Roy Lichtenstein

Pixel President
Scott Blake

Pixel President

The halftone dot is represented larger than life. Polke, Lichtenstein, and I mimic mechanical reproduction techniques that is used to print mass media.

48 Portraits
Gehard Richter

Pixel President Installation
Scott Blake

Gehard Richter’s 48 Portraits has a similar feel to my Pixel President which has 42 portraits. Both use multiple grayscale images of white stuffy guys in suits. All of eyes in Richter's piece are staring towards the center which creates a fixed focal point in the overall composition. All of my Presidents are looking around the room creating an active focal point that is elusive.

AI – How do you prevent your work from colluding with the system or critiques?

SB - I want my work to be critiqued, I want to be recognized by the mainstream, but I find the current system unacceptable and conversely it does not accept my art. I challenge the status quo and until some serious changes take place my work will not be discussed at large.

A great example of the difference between my art and other art that is colluding with the system is my bar code portrait of Oprah and Rob Silvers Photomosaic of talk show host. We both actually used the same picture which makes this comparison even juicer. I portrayed her in black and white, which makes it less realistic and harder to see, but much more expressive than the full color Photomosaic. Silver's has written about the macro/micro relationship and is aware of this element in his art, but the link between Oprah's face and girls in Africa is weak and stinks of ass kissing. On the other hand my image uses bar codes that Oprah has endorsed, displayed on her show, and profits from there sale. I sent Oprah a 60 x 60 inch print over a year ago and never heard a thing. Rob Silvers artwork was unveiled and celebrated on Oprah's show.

The system, status quo, and mainstream are all relative. Charlie Manson was asked what he would do if he ever got out of jail and he said, "I'm already out".

ISBN/Oprah/Book Club
Scott Blake

Photomosaic Oprah Winfrey
Robert Silvers

November 2002
Brandon Native Turns Barcodes into Works of Art
on TBO News website
by Rod Carter
Tampa, Florida
June 2010
Omahan Creates Bar Code Art
on WOWT News website
by Brian Mastre
Omaha, Nebraska
September 2009
Scott Blake Interview
on Dixonfoma Website
by Dixon Cordell
April 2009
Amazing portraits of Elvis and Madonna made entirely from bar codes
in Daily Mail Newspaper
by Gavin Bernard
United Kingdom
May 2008
Scott Blake: Behind Bars
in Swindle Magazine
by Jason Filipow & Anne Keehan
Los Angeles, California
March 2007
Interview with Scott Blake
on Soul Coffee Website
by Geoff Pitchford
August 2005
Interview with Scott Blake
on FryCookOnVenus website
by FryCookOnVenus
September 2004
The Fine Art of Bar Codes
in The Reader Newspaper
by Jeremy Schnitker
Omaha, Nebraska
February 2004
Creating art one pixel at a time
in The District Newspaper
by Craig Oelrich
Savannah, Georgia
March 2003
Macro/micro, subversion, and celebration
by Alessandro Imperato
Savannah, Georgia
October 2002
Ecstasy Self Portrait Q & A
by Bonnie Molins
August 2002
Original Artist Statement and FAQ
May 2001
Barcode artist Scott Blake digitizes human expressions
on Silicon Prairie News website
by Andrea Ciurej
Omaha, Nebraska
May 2010
Omaha Barcode Artist Scans Famous, Infamous Faces
on KETV News website
by John Oakey
Omaha, Nebraska
October 2009
Black is Beautiful
in Lowdown Magazine
by Sven Fortmann
August 2008
You're not special
on DocHoloday website
by DocHoloday
August 2007
Get acquainted, Scott Blake
in Inbox Magazine
by Andrey Oaheeb
February 2006
Madonna Portraits Q & A
August 2005
Bring Your Bar Codes
in Art Papers Magazine
by Kent Wolgamott
May 2005
Email from "Jesus"
September 2004
Finding Form in Bar-Code Function
on TechTV Live
by Andy Jordan
San Francisco, California
October 2003
The Body-Mined Show Catalog
by Glenn Zucman
Long Beach, California
January 2003
Abrstraction, "Capitalist Realist",
and the system

by Alessandro Imperato
Savannah, Georgia
November 2002
Enrayer le code
in Etapes Graphiques Magazine
by Vanina Pinter
July 2002
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