There are many things that pass us by unnoticed. And while technology has greatly improved our ability to suss out the forgotten or unknown, the more we consume the more we miss, summarize and abbreviate. Science tells us that everything we experience, whether consciously or not, can and often does have an effect on us. Such subliminal stimuli are probably as old as language itself. Every time we talk to one another, we are in a way imprinting an idea on our listeners. If there is a conscious intention to keep part of that impact a secret as there often is, it becomes subliminal. We are constantly manipulating and being manipulated by ideas from people, governments and religions. It is this communication of ideas that plants the seeds of inspiration, the most fruitful of which we are often never aware.
We often, and perhaps mistakenly, associate the subliminal with the noisy and busy. We have a bias which assumes that the more junk there is, the more likely part of that junk is meant to stealthily lodge itself in our brain. Yet there is something magical about a message arising from such noise. Danny O'Connor does just this with his pieces that border on the abstract. While the figures in his pieces are clear and anything but hidden, one begins to wonder what else may be concealed between the lines.
Subliminal messages have found new life on the web. I suppose the dreaded pop-up was created with the intention of manipulating users into buying a product by bombarding them with ad windows they'd have to view and close. Yet not all has been for ill. The portfolio site for young interaction designer Pierre Georges teems with information. Interaction design is the very definition of subliminal: done correctly it should never be noticed by the user though it unarguably leaves an impact. Pierre's site, and especially his portfolio, is a wonderful example of intuitive subliminal interaction.
Hidden messages are probably most famously found in film. The idea of hidden frames has been popularized by films such as Fight Club. Though now largely illegal, there are still occasional examples that seem to push the line by attempting to associate ideas by showing them together in film. Video artists such as Nam June Paik used a barrage of frames to create texture, motion and emotion. Such pieces often feel like there's many subliminal elements lurking behind them. The following video for Brooklyn band MS MR echoes Paik's work with its montage of pop culture clips edited to the music. I love the way the rough cuts imitate the stream of consciousness and catchy chorus: "welcome to the inner workings of my mind."
The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin from our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.