FMP

Subliminal messaging

Posted on: May 5, 2010

I’ve learnt that information overload can contain subliminal messages, through adverts, design, and people as a form of influence (and whether we accept it or not, we are still manipulated to choose). The use of pattern recognition helps us to make sense of all the information that is overloading our minds. Its under these patterns that the subconscious is open to information that the conscious cannot accept or block out. If I were to overload my audience with too much information, I can also present to them information at a subconscious level, achieving the presentation of what, how and why we deal with information overload; in effect overloading the conscious and sub conscious mind.

Subliminal message are being bombarded at you continuously though out the day, though books, magazines, television and music. Their effect increases with increased exposure time, for example having seen a subliminally embedded poster will not likely produce
insanity, but a lifetimes worth may drastically alter conscious decision making.

  • Sub-audible background sounds: Sub-audible background sounds:  a monotonic, rhythmic voice will repeat the words “OBEY”, “BUY MORE”, “SPEND AND SAVE”, “SLEEP”, “WE ARE WATCHING YOU” or something similar over and over again at a very low sound level. The commands words “SLEEP” and “OBEY” are geared directly at the subconscious mind. The idea here is to “turn off” the subconscious mind’s reporting mechanisms. The subconscious mind is unable to do anything other than produce emotions: “SLEEP” and “OBEY” prohibit the subconscious from reporting (producing a feeling like – something’s wrong here) of any misdeed.The idea behind subliminal programming is not so much to manipulate the conscious perception, but rather stimulate feelings. Subliminal stimuli are not direct attacks upon conscious thought; they produce emotions – fear, hate, love, and so on.
  • Embedding: signal or message “embedded” in another medium, designed to pass “below” the normal” limits of perception. In early forms of embedding (1950s to late 1970s), an artist would lightly print words in the background of pictures that were to be printed. These days, computers and high quality printers can (and do) produce a background mosaic of the commanding words. Ordinarily, the subconscious mind would produce a feeling (the subconscious mind is not capable of rational decision making) telling the viewer, “Something is awry here.” The command SLEEP and OBEY weakens the mind’s ability to alert the viewer to the embedded command:

  • Subliminal Priming – when an image or message is flashed so quickly that it doesn’t register with humans on a conscious level. (ref to Sperling experiment-‘what is information overload‘ article);  Balwin (1991) carried out studies on how iconic figures and their expressions had an effect on the observers answer.

I have found out that no adobe program offer 1000 fps rate, both premiere and after effects only go up to 60 fps, and flash reaches up to 120 fps. Taking into account that from my research in pattern recognition Averbach  and Sperling (1961) experimented the relation between setting audio tones to a visual grid (low, medium, high). This caused the test subjects to retain the desired memory of an image but not the corresponding grid position to the level of tone.

  • Backwards masking – is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. Under hypnosis, patients have exhibited the ability to read from mirror images, upside down, and a mix of right side up, upside down, and mirror images at a normal reading rate. From this, researchers have gathered that the subconscious mind works at nearly 100 times as fast as the conscious mind.

Just to back up that subliminal messaging has and still is under speculation, Dr. Joe Stuessy (1985) testified to the United States Senate at the Parents Music Resource Center hearings that:

‘The message of a piece of heavy metal music may also be covert or subliminal. Sometimes subaudible tracks are mixed in underneath other, louder tracks. These are heard by the subconscious but not the conscious mind. Sometimes the messages are audible but are backwards, called back masking. There is disagreement among experts regarding the effectiveness of subliminals. We need more research on that. Some messages are presented to the listener backwards. While listening to a normal forward message (usually nonsensical), one is simultaneously being treated to a back-wards message. Some experts believe that while the conscious mind is trying to absorb the forward lyric, the subconscious is working overtime to decipher the backwards message’

U.S. Senate (1985;118,125)

An ‘interesting’ evaluation of these techniques:

‘As I studied subliminal messages more, the reasoning became clear. With increasing exposure time, subliminal stimuli becomes ever more
effective. The goal of these mind manipulators became clear: by manipulating the subconscious mind of every person, the mind manipulators intends to lull us into an altered state of consciousness, have us equate material possessions to sexual gratification, greatly reduce birth rates, and promote homosexuality. Homosexuality is of couse the most effective means of birth control (population reduction).
<I’ve always wondered why ‘The L word’ even existed on our screens bar the whole gay rights, they just wanted more homosexuals to curb birthrates! I jest>

For those of you with background in psychology, you will note that their exists no experiemental data for long term subliminal exposure.
Even if such data were available, the study would be entirely falsified by the power structure that exists in this country.
..

…KILL, PAIN, and FEAR are usually reserved for children and hostile political leaders. Most every child you see in print (Time Magazine,
Vogue, Your Daily Paper, etc) has the word KILL embedded across his or her forehead. The idea behind this is quite clear: associate death
with children. Now try to follow me on this one folks. Have you ever heard a young person saying something like, “Death before marrage?” or “A kid — never!”

To digress briefly, the birth rate in the US has gone from 3.9 children per female in 1950 to 1.2 children per female in 1990. Note
subliminal programming was not used largely until the mid-1950s. Do you people get it? We are breeding ourselves into extinction! In forty years, our birth rate has more than halved. By subliminally equating children with KILL, PAIN, and FEAR the mind manipulators have eradicated a large number of us — prenatally!’

Modemac (Accessed 4th April, 1995)

Subliminal messaging has been a topic in the past as a technique that advertisers and cults used to manipulate the masses over time through repetition and was easily blamed for odd occurrences in death especially in the young like in the case of the Judas Priest case where James Vance and Raymond Belknap, attempted suicide in 1985 (other cases). However in today’s popular culture subliminal messaging is not seen as a threatening tools used by the media, but more as an overstatement:

‘An episode of The Simpsons involved Bart and his friends joining a boy band, the Party Posse. While watching a video for the Party Posse, Lisa notices the phrase “Yvan Eht Nioj” being repeated continuously by belly-dancers. She plays the video in reverse and finds that it means “Join the Navy”. Also, an Uncle Sam “I Want You” poster can be seen in the video frame by frame. The joke was that the United States sends subliminal messages in order to recruit people. In addition, the art of “superliminal messages” was demonstrated to Lisa; a Navy representative leans out a window, sees Lenny Leonard and Carl Carlson, and shouts “Hey you! Join the Navy!”‘

‘Subliminal messages in popular culture’ Wikipedia

I still remain skeptical with subliminal messaging especially embedding messages visually. There are too many external factors that change the way a generation behave, and move. I understand that the conscious mind is the gatekeeper to all the information and by overloading it, messages aimed at the sub conscious can be manipulated, but to a very or no effect unless the person drowns themselves in one particular message for a very long time. So where does this leave me with this project? I could use some techniques to enforce what I’ve learn about information overload but whether people pick up on it is another thing seeing as it’s NOT meant to be noticed.

Word cloud for embedded message:

Words that could be used in the film. I like the idea of seeing if I could audio track OBEY, LOVE, SLEEP using backwards masking, and having a simple command as embedded messaging. From the word cloud its clear that the popular words are: curious, disturbed, zeal, sensitive, fearful, shocked. Maybe its what I want the film to feel like, but it does not help with promoting the subject of what, how and why we deal with information overload.

A detailed essay on how slow or fast a recorded sound/voice can initiate emotion (not just the meaning of the word to the listener). This is a a whole new field that requires knowledge on mathematical equations that I cannot make sense of. I know now that I won’t be able to be selective with the low frequencies for subaudiable sounds, in other words the words OBEY, LOVE, SLEEP might not even work at a sub conscious level. A written blog states that:

‘Audio subliminal recordings are made in which in addition to using a primary carrier, such as music, two audio channels are used to deliver subliminal messages to the brain. On one channel, accessing the left brain hemisphere, the message delivered is meaningfully spoken, forward-masked, permissive affirmations delivered in a round-robin manner by a male voice, a female voice and a child’s voice. On the other channel, accessing the right brain, directive messages, in the same voices, are recorded in backward-masked (or meta-contrast). The three voices are recording in round-robin fashion with full echo reverberation. The audio tracks are mixed using a special processor which converts sound frequencies to electrical impulses and tracks the subliminal message to synchronize the subliminal message in stereo with the primary carrier. The processor maintains constant gain differential between the primary carrier and the subliminal verbiage and, with the subliminal verbiage being recorded with round-robin, full echo reverberation, ensures that none of a message is lost. The primary carrier should be continuous music without breaks or great differences in movements.’

Woodhams, James R. Taylor, Eldon(Accessed 22nd Nov, 1992)

It looks like options to input any subaudiable sounds is out of the question, seeing as there are a few ways to go about it, one requiring deeper knowledge in sound frequencies and the other in actually attaining the right equipment.

Here’s an attempt at what both writers explained how subaudiable messaging should be like:

With embedded imaging I thought about what kind of message I wanted to make out of the 4-5 iconic images, so that people can generally link them to make sense out of the chaos. They need to be universally recognised and known to stand for something for example, a gun is to kill or protect it is also a form of power. Referring back to Simon Everly’s discovery about popular searches on music, religion and relationships I thought about using relationships as the topic, music is too broad with different genres so it can’t be applied to the general public, and religion is a sensitive subject that people instantly become defensive about (in my opinion). Choosing relationships opens the door to emotions that everyone can relate to and is part of our deepest desires; Freud’s instinct drives: Eros working for creativity, harmony, sexual connection, reproduction, and self-preservation;  Thanatos for destruction, repetition, aggression, compulsion, and self-destruction (‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ Sigmund.F 1922). To positively reinforce the eros or thanatos?

What to do:

Selective!

Recreate a film version of my flash website example, selective random iconic images as well as including 4-5 images based on relationships; leaving these relationship images to flash twice as long so that the viewer can recognise and imprint these into their short term memory, which would hopefully over a period of time piece together a meaning to them.

The videos compressed on youtube lost allot of the frames per second from the original footage and also altered the effect of each change in image repetition ; an unreliable example to show in the blog. Full quality videos found in CD: FMP/videos/flash_0# to see their full effect.

I tried a variety of try out to find the right speed of frames per second and the right timing for the repeated relationship image to appear. Here are the results:

Worked out according to Balwin (1991); 1/4 of a second is 250 m/sc The footage is being exported as 60fps, so a 1/4 of that is 15 fps, the time frame to input the embedded images and sound a tone after the image. I am fully aware that it’s not the 1000 fps test Balwin carried out so I already know that this may not work. But with the programs available 60fps is the maximum I can get.

Created embedded images on Flash, setting a different image to a frame and setting the output to 60fps. Did this for 960 frames and when it came to exporting it uncompressed the files came out as 875MB which is too big, and overclock my RAM and virtual memory.

So I tried exporting it in chunks; every 240 frames which was much better and this time I compressed the footage to  32 fps, so I’m further away from Balwin’s experiment. 32fps seemed to take allot of the frames out and for some reason extended certain frames when editing on premiere. Re-editing the frames on premiere seems to work better and I should have used that program then flash. This mean that I had to rely on the background music for the que to insert a beep tone AND place the embedded images in the right place.

Problems with the exporting of footage. 60 fps is eating away at my RAM and crashes my exporting program. Decrease fps to 32 fps and Quicktime H.264 compression, as I was setting the footage to uncompressed AVI

In 1985, Dr. Joe Stuessy testified to the United States Senate at the Parents Music Resource Center hearings that:

The message of a piece of heavy metal music may also be covert or subliminal. Sometimes subaudible tracks are mixed in underneath other, louder tracks. These are heard by the subconscious but not the conscious mind. Sometimes the messages are audible but are backwards, called backmasking. There is disagreement among experts regarding the effectiveness of subliminals. We need more research on that.[34]

Stuessy’s written testimony stated that:

Some messages are presented to the listener backwards. While listening to a normal forward message (usually nonsensical), one is simultaneously being treated to a back-wards message. Some experts believe that while the conscious mind is trying to absorb the forward lyric, the subconscious is working overtime to decipher the backwards message.
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