SUBLIMINAL SEDUCTION Has your art seduced anyone lately?
For the past several weeks, I have been reading “Subliminal Seduction” by Wilson Bryan Key. It is an old book, published in 1974 and ma appear a little out of date in today’s market place, however, it has proven to be very interesting reading. Subliminal Seduction explores how the advertising media and large corporations encourage or as the book puts it “manipulate” the unsuspecting public, like you and I into purchasing their products and services on both a conscious level and unconscious level. According to the book, it is the unconscious level that does the most work of influencing our buying decisions.
Words, images and symbols are embedded into TV commercials and magazine ads that are so faint, subtle and obscure that they are not registered by the conscious eye. Since the mind is quicker than the eye, we process these words, images and symbols on a much faster and deeper level than we are actually conscious of doing. Studies done on various types of ads, such as: alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, cigarette ads, children’s dolls, magazines, cars, hair and cleaning products, all revealed embedded hidden messages. Out of all the words, images and symbols, the word “sex” is the most often used. “Sex” and several other choice were painted and superimposed on drinking glasses, models’ hair, clothing and other locations in ads with the sole purpose of encouraging product sales. The adage that “sex sells” goes a bit deeper than most of us actually may realize.
What does this have to do with art, you may ask. Mr. Key wrote, “It is entirely possible that Titian, Rembrandt, Picasso, and others also discovered simply by accident that embedded words produced a strange effect upon art patrons. Examples of word-embedding are abundant in the so-called fine arts. Several Fine Art students who were studying subliminal techniques secretly embedded words, pictures, and symbols in their classroom paintings and sculpture, with startling effect. Their work was consistently graded A by their art professor when subliminals were included. One student, enthusiastic but a little guilty over her discovery, tried to explain to her professor what she had done, which was to embed the word “c_ _t” in an abstract sculpture. The professor refused to believe that such a technique could possibly affect anyone who “really understood art.” The professor vehemently criticized the student for having an overactive imagination.
A more recent example of the use of embedded words is in the movie, A Beautiful Mind, with Russell Crowe. Although this is not an art-related scenario in the movie, his character is haunted by an ability of recognizing embedded words and phrases in magazines and newspapers.
Far be it from me to suggest that anyone should try these techniques in their own art, however, in today’s market one may need to take advantage of any tool that is available to them. If I am simply behind the times and embedding is already a part of the marketing strategy used by artists, please let me know. Since reading this book, I have considered ways of embedding the words “USE FIND ART” in the weekly e-mail broadcast to encourage sales. Short phrases and words seem to be most successful. My only problem is that in order for it to be effective, I need to include it where you would not consciously notice it.
Malik M. Lloyd List your announcements on FIND ART List your announcements on FIND ART List your announcements on FIND ART