The barcode

The word "artissining" in barcode form

The word "artissining" in barcode form

According to Google, today marks the 57th anniversary of the patent filing for the barcode or Universal Product Code (UPC, to those who work in retail and merchandising). Yes, that ubiquitous array of thin and thick lines and spaces that are commonly found on products sold on the planet. Who would have thought that a cryptic series of lines and spaces could standardize the way merchandise are scanned and sold in our local grocery stores?
Many, many years back in high school, this barcode symbol was a popular print on Hanes t-shirts. At that time, I had no idea what the barcode really meant. All I know was that it signified something that was imported or PX (Post Exchange) goods that you could only buy in (U.S.) military installations and select department stores. The symbol became so universally recognized that, years later, it would enter pop culture not only as accepted marks on products sold but intriguingly so as the Mark of the Beast itself! This belief came by way of the biblical reference in Revelation 13:17 that says, “so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name,” and the understanding that every barcode is interspersed with the number “6” in the beginning, middle and end of the code, hence the number 666.
But as mundane (and satanic) as the symbol is, it fascinated me! Somehow, the varying widths of lines and spaces were pleasing to look at even if they were printed only in one color, black! In a design standpoint, the barcode conveys an asymmetrical pattern that appears to illustrate the underlying principles of repetition (of lines), gradation (from thin to thick and vice versa), contrast (of the black positives to the white negative spaces) and dominance (of the thick black lines that are sometimes grouped together). It is an unlikely figure that seems to throb with conflict, harmony and unity! Sometimes, a symbol as trivial as a barcode can acquire as much importance as alphabet and numbers.

If you want to find out what your name or any word translates into barcode form (like I did with the name of this blog shown in the figure above), please click on this link.


2 Responses

  1. Hello there Master Artist !!!
    You’re right …mundane (and satanic) as the symbol is….it also fascinated me…But this symbol(barcode)….facilitates and simplifies the world of economy and other transactions …and I think most of our identification cards already have it…with the use of automated machines around.
    I guess a lot of people adhere to the belief about the coming of the beast…which perhaps is inevitable…???!!!
    I wonder what’s your motivation to write about this…hmmmm let me guess….it’s very technical …
    Anyway…good to see you posting again after a brief hiatus…just miss your postings and sketches…more…more..more…Master Artist!!! God bless !

    • Hi, 5378! Thanks a lot for the visit!
      Yes, you’re right, technology (its rapid advancement vis-a-vis our daily lives) motivated me to write about this. It’s just interesting to realize how a simple-looking image or code can represent only one thing out of hundreds of thousands of discrete products!
      And the beast? Yes, it’s here already amidst us. But it ain’t staying forever. It’ll be slayed in the end and gone for good!
      Thanks so much again, 5378, for stopping by! I appreciate it a lot!
      Take care and GOD Bless you always!!!

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