Subliminal messages by Floriane

3 02 2008

 » A subliminal message is a signal or message embedded in another object, designed to pass below the normal limits of perception. These messages are indiscernible by the conscious mind, but in certain situations can affect the subconscious or deeper mind and later actions or attitudes.
Subliminal techniques have occasionally been used in advertising and propaganda;  »

They can be incorporated in a soundtrack or a video sequence. For instance, in a film, if we replace one of the pictures with a picture which has nothing to do with the film, this one will be shown only 0,04 seconds (there are 24 pictures a second in the cinema).

What interested me in this idea of subliminal messages, is first that purpose, effectiveness and frequency of the application of such techniques are debated.
It’s been proved that subliminal messages were introduced into many films, TV guides or advertising. But do they have a real influence on the spectator?
That remains to be proved, despite several experiments which have been made on this subject.

But, on second thought, the most important thing is not to know if subliminal messages actually work or not. What is the most worrying is to know that power and advertising try to influence our will in our subconscious, with this means, or others even more effective.

And that is what I would like to denounce. It has never been proved that subliminal message work on people’s brains, in spite of many more or less serious experiments.
But on the other hand, the powers of many countries forbade the broadcasting of subliminal messages in television advertising, because it was not in accordance with their ethics, but particularly because this phenomenon made the population realize that it could be manipulated without being conscious.

Indeed, advertising executive rarely use this technique, but « artistic movements » still use these subliminal messages, for fun, as in Walt Disney‘s « Bernard and Bianca” where a picture of a naked woman’s body in window appears in one of the scenes, in the background. Sometimes they are used to provoke, as in Led Zeppelin’s « stairway to heaven » where we hear various messages when we play the soundtrack back to front. Sometimes the aim is to denounce this phenomenon, as in David Fincher’s « Fight Club » where the technique is used as setup in this fiction.

This is what I would like to do too in a video project: I would like to introduce subliminal messages video editing, to observe for myself if it can have an effect, – -even small- on the spectator.
That’s why I had the idea to use soft and restful pictures of babies in a video editing of a stressful and disturbing film, (Requiem for a dream). The idea is to reassure someone watching the passage.

But I also want to make these pictures appear to the public, little by little, to reveal to the spectator that there are many things which happened without their realizing it (and which more or less manipulates their mind).
Indeed, by showing the pictures more and more clearly, they will realize that they were there from the beginning of the projection, even though they did not notice them, which is what often happens in the media or in politics, by various means (not necessarily with subliminal messages, but by manipulation of the subconscious).

To find more explanations about subliminal messages, or about the various experiments using them over the years, you can consult this site:




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