In the current age of accelerated technological advancement, one seldom has the opportunity to reflect upon the nature of the changes this advancement brings until well after they have been effected. The impact that this condition has had in the last fifty years on the fine arts, which are historically resistant to interface, has yet to be calculated. One artist’s focus on this issue, and more specifically the technology of the bar code, has drawn the attention of both the art community and the bar code industry.
New York artist Bernard Solco’s depictions of popular American product bar codes illustrates the extent to which art and technology have become intertwined. These impressive oversize paintings have been precisely scaled and rendered so that each painting is capable of being scanned. Yet, Solco’s works are not simple depictions of bar codes; in their altered format and context, they manifest new meaning. His “American Product Series” recently exhibited in Soho NYC, explores the ramifications of the influence which technology exerts over American society.
Bernard Solco has united the two distinct roles of consumer and artist. Representing a range of popular products from Welch’s Grape Jelly and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes to Elmer’s Glue and Kodak Film. Solco’s series delineates the buying habits of a specific sector of the American public.
The works comment on the power of marketing to transform products into entrenched institutions, to ingrain them into the very fabric of a culture. The paintings would seem to suggest that the consumer is as much shaped by the innumerable products and marketing strategies offered to it, as it is a player in shaping them. The bar code is the symbol of this socioeconomic union. It is the ubiquitous postscript to every human transaction.
The images allow for a new awareness of the bar code, compelling one to consider the origins and ramifications of a technology which is so widespread that it has almost come to be taken for granted. Solco’s work is able to exist due to the advent of digital technology. This highlights the manner in which art and technology evolve in conjunction.
Symbology: History of the Bar Code
Bernard Solco’s cutting edge series of oversized canvases depicting actual bar code technologies.
Gallery Installation: Soho NYC circa 2000
Bernard Solco’s “Symbology” series are the next level of bar code technology and the next level of art as the world’s first talking paintings. What appears to be a series of abstract geometric images are actually real 2D symbols capable of being encrypted with an impressive amount of data. These incredible works of art are encrypted with messages such as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, prophecies and spiritual texts. The paintings can then be decoded with a bar code scanner and now on smart phones that download a matrix bar code app. Each of the paintings represent a different 2D symbol code that is utilized by companies such as UPS, Audi Automotive, Sony and many other. The technology was first developed for the Department Of Defense and later introduced into the public domain as new technology advances. Solco’s newest series is called “Decalogue”, featuring ten oversized paintings depicting each one of the Ten Commandments.
Thou Shalt Not Lie 2014
From The Ten Commandments Series
acrylic on canvas
48 x 48 inches
You can actually scan the above painting to reveal the encrypted message right on your computer screen with a QR Code scanner on your smartphone. Don’t have one? Go the App Store (Apple) or Play Store (Android) and download a QR Code Scanner. Once the app is downloaded to your phone you can then scan the above painting or any other bar code.
Bernard Solco’s art work has been acquired by private collectors and prominent corporations worldwide. His bar code art is currently on display in the executive boardroom of America Online on Madison Avenue in NYC, Eastman Kodak Company, and throughout the halls and offices of GS1 US in Lawrenceville, NJ, to name a few.
All bar code paintings are precise replicas of actual bar codes and will read with a bar code scanner or bar code app on iPhone & Android smart phones.
Please contact the studio for pricing on original paintings.