The Observatories 2009 – commissioned by MKFringe International Arts Festival, supported by Arts Council.

The Observatories is an experimental artwork developed by Pink & Freeman, a scientist and artist team that explores psychological manipulation of consumers.

The ethical implications of subliminal psychological manipulation are huge. It is said that the arts can be masters of communication, but what if the message is being communicated subliminally? And what if that message is not a concrete fact but an emotional feeling, something that drives you to act? Techniques are used to manipulate how you think and feel in the environment you are in. What are these techniques that make us feel those fight or flight or must-buy-it-now urges?

This had two rooms set up with uniform light and sound. In the centre of each room were two highly polished black bowls that create their own illusion. On entering and exit the public are asked how they felt and which room they felt more positive about. It also mentioned that the artists had manipulated one of the rooms to make the participant more positive or negative about that room – they showed they could manipulate the audience 74% of the time, 94% of which have no idea how.

As part of the MKFringe International Arts Festival it was nominated for The Marshall Business Aviation Innovation & Technology Award at the 2010 Arts & Business East Awards.

Performed along with an interactive talk at:

  • MKFringe International Arts Festival, Milton Keynes Shopping Centre
  • Dana Centre at London Science Museum
  • British Science Association Science Communication Conference
  • Northern Arts & Science Conference, Leeds Metropolitan University

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