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Scott Blake, 'Barcode Oprah' Creator, Turns Daytime TV Queen Into Scan-Able Commodity

Bar Code Art

First Posted: 05/25/11 08:00 PM ET Updated: 11/16/11 06:04 AM ET

To Oprah Winfrey fans, the end of her show is like the end of the world.

But the fear of Doomsday is what inspired one artist to turn Oprah's image into an extraordinary piece of art -- the Barcode Oprah.

"In 1999, everyone was afraid of the Y2K bug," says Scott Blake. "So I took all those worries about zeros and ones -- computer code -- and turned it into art."

Those ISDN codes found on just about every book, magazine, appliance and packaged grocery item have since served as a medium for Blake's art, and he has used it to render the greatest icons of our time -- and of all time.

ISBN/Oprah/ Book Club/ Scaled (2000)

"I started with Jesus," he said. "And I knew I'd go on to all those legends whom we know just by their first name -- Elvis, Madonna, Marilyn."

"I figured you had to choose Oprah after Jesus because she's more biblical than any other celebrity."

Blakes first works were halftones in the tradition of Roy Lichtenstein, but he eventually moved on to use working barcodes. If you scan his second rendering of Winfrey, you'll see 1,824 ISBN images, each one a selection from Oprah's Book Club.

Just as Y2K passed with no big disaster, Blake feels the world will get used to TV without Oprah's show.

"I'm actually not that big of a fan," Blake says. "People think I am. But to me, my art represents how these celebrities have been turned into commodities."

Scan-able commodities.

Blake is now turning his attention to a Sept. 11 flip book and a rendering of journalist Amy Goodman in QR barcode (the next generation of ISDN).

"I haven't heard from Amy yet. But I'm a big fan of Democracy Now, and I hope she gets my work."

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