It was the turn-of-the-century Y2K scare and its threatened digital apocalypse that first inspired Omaha-based bar-code artist Scott Blake to develop his oeuvre, along with the dot-screen technique made famous by pop art icon Roy Lichtenstein: His first bar-code image was "Bar Code Jesus," a pixelated portrait mosaic of Photoshopped bar codes. It was all surface, no depth, a comment on the commercialization of religion, but it also represented a wide-open niche in digital art, and Blake dove right in. Subsequent bar-code Jesus images by Blake go a step further in terms of technology: The embedded bar codes contain scannable words from the Bible.
Nearly ten years later, Blake has bar-coded everyone from Elvis to Oprah, turned bar codes into flip books and temporary tattoos. Now hes taking it all on a fully interactive Barcode Art Tour that lands at 3 Kings Tavern, 60 South Broadway, today from noon to midnight in conjunction with that venues monthly Punk Rock Garage Sale. In tow, Blake will have scannable portraits of the aforementioned Elvis, along with Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Lee and other pop-culture figures; when viewers scan their bar-code visages, theyll be able to release DVD footage or musical snippets.