INFLUENCE: The Unconscious Mind

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A Realization in Self

In an attempt to make progress on developing a thesis topic, I’ve begun to read Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe. It begins with a brief history of Alexei Gan and the Moscow anarchists. Through the magazine Anarkhiia, the Moscow anarchists were able to spread their message of “paralyzing the government mechanism” through the written word as well as visuals (Leach 25). It was then speculated that “Black Square” by Malevich (see “Black Square and Red Square” below, left), originator of Suprematist art, was perhaps also representative of the anarchist’s black flag (26).

malevich black square

It was this idea that brought me to consider subliminal messaging. In that moment, I wondered: Can architecture act as a means of subliminally messaging social/political views to members of the community?

To postulate this interest, I thought I would gain some insight into the workings of subliminal messaging. I watched a talk given by Dr. Leonard Mlodinow based on his book Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (available here). How we experience the world is based very much on our mind’s perception of the way we want to experience it, essentially retrieving data we’ve collected and unconsciously processing it to apply to a situation. If we miss pieces of information, our brains are still able to understand by filling in the gaps. According to Dr. Mlodinow, our brains are able to use context to understand reality.

We are unaware of the influences of our unconscious minds, and it is this thought that has helped me come to a realization about myself. In my previous entry, I tried to make sense of my representational style, particularly why I create surreal imagery. Through my research above, I have another hunch:

I never met my grandfather, John J. Rahilly who passed away before I was born, but I’ve always been told that we would have a lot in common. Through his assignments in the army during WWII, my grandfather gained experience in laboratory work and forensics. This experience eventually led to a job as operations supervisor in the pathology department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where a plaque dedicated to him hangs today. Besides pathology, he was interested and talented in art. When searching through his army chest a few years ago, I found piles of his drawings and notes from art classes he’d been taking on the side. His works, like the image shown at the beginning of this entry, were primarily geometric abstractions and surreal imagery. At the same time I was studying Mondrian and Dali in architecture school, I was finding related studies by a student 50 years my senior.

Could it be that my own interests in constructivism, suprematism, surrealism and the like collected in my subconscious when I was unaware, through the discovery of my grandfather’s art, and are now manifesting in my own work? In the drawings below, these too seem related to Malevich’s “Black Square” above. . .

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