This 3-poster series delves into the idea that sometimes what we see with our eyes isn’t always what’s actually there. Our brains react to certain things under specific circumstances of visual stimulation. To challenge people’s visual perspective, I thoroughly investigated various kinds of line, color and shape arrangements to produce optical illusions with a hidden message.
I began investigation by first observing multiple examples of optical illusions and visual stimulation. I looked and studied arrays of references to see precisely what contributes to various types of visual stimulation. With that knowledge I was seeking to incorporate those elements into my own design.
The concept behind this series was to include a subliminal message within the posters. I decided to sample the quote, "Things are not always what they seem..." derived from one of Plato's dialogues named Phaedrus, hence the title of the project. I designed very heavily geometric-based typography with the intention of coming up with an intricate way to hide the words within various illusionistic environments.
I initially approached my process with sandbox experimentation focusing primarily on line, color and form. In this sketch, I looked into the relationships between color transparencies and shapes to produce movement and optical vibration. From research I learned that the primary colors, especially red and blue, are often utilized to create anaglyphic-like typography.
In this sketch I applied similar anaglyphic properties to the type I designed to get an idea of its legibility and experiment more with the technique.
I shifted my focus to line work and looked into their roles in creating optical illusions. I was experimenting with ways of organizing lines that create visual stimulation.
Here I continued to experiment with lines but this time changed the direction of the lines. I noticed that by orienting line patterns diagonally as opposed to horizontally and vetically produced a more exaggerated dynamic movement and a much more visually stimulating composition.
Next, I investigated optical stimulations created purely of negative space. I wanted to closely observe the relationship between positive and negative forms and see how a message can be portrayed within the illusion. I also applied some anaglyphic color elements to experiment with the combining multiple illusionistic properties simultaneously.
The images above and below are couple examples of more finalized iterations of the poster series. At this point I was really focused on the visual interaction between the posters themselves as each of the posters had their own unique visual identity. I felt i had to make them look a little more cohesive as my intent was for the subliminal message to be read all together consecutively. My plan was to arrange the three posters above one another and have the quote read from top to bottom. The quote was divided into each poster, reading as "Things Are Not - Always What - They Seem."
Final Poster Designs
The posters were displayed at my Senior Design Showcase. For its exhibition, I printed each poster 18" × 24" on matte paper and mounted each of them individually on foam core board.
This is a photo of me standing next to my artwork at the opening reception. It helps to give an idea of the size comparison. At the exhibition I got an opportunity to witness people’s reactions to my posters, and for the most part people seemed intrigued by them. They would meticulously examine them for several minutes at a time in an attempt to uncover the hidden message behind the posters. Although sometimes someone would only give a brief glimpse at the posters and then move on without even realizing there's a message, it is precisely the premise of my whole concept. "Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden."