Hungry? is a playful piece of subliminal messaging combining locally grown Rhubarb with a classic piece of hidden advertising. Hungry? provides a comment on the current opposition of the Wakefield area to the wider political landscape of the UK. Using references to Wakefield’s well known agricultural heritage within the Rhubarb Triangle, the poster taunts recent Tory policies which strip back those at the base of society to the bare necessities whilst under an increasingly controlled environment through heightened surveillance and propaganda based media.
During my research I was interested to find out about the currently derelict Art Deco cinema in the area, which could provide content for further works in the series. In this instance, it has inspired the use of one of the first widely reported pieces of subliminal messaging in film. Created by Market Researcher James Vicary in 1957, an image of a young woman and the words Hungry? Eat Popcorn would flash during the film, just long enough for the subconscious to pick it up. Interestingly it was reported that these subliminal ads created a huge increase in popcorn sales but then turned out to be a hoax.
By combining this with Rhubarb, Vicary’s subliminal message gets updated, relating to our current socio-political situation such as that of the plight of the food banks. In relation to my wider body of work, the text ‘Rhubarb’ also becomes a phallic symbol sitting over ‘Popcorn’ as a symbol of fertility. I was also reminded of the saying ‘Never touch another man’s rhubarb’ relating to infidelity.