They Live

Studies in Clandestine Graffiti

Clandestine: Kept or done in secret, often in order to conceal an illicit or improper purpose. Conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods.

Graffiti: A drawing or inscription made on a wall or other surface, usually so as to be seen by the public.

They Live. No. Really, they do. Don't believe me? Take a look outside your window and put on these sunglasses. Whats that? Yup. We're fucked. We spend 9 hours a day working and come home to watch 8 hours of T.V. Ask yourself when you last went one day without seeing an advertisement or having something shoved into your consciousness in the most offensive way. Been a while eh? We're destroying the environment to build more useless shit - and we're all buying it. We are slaves to commerce and its authority - the market. We get in line, we wait patiently in the queue for our chance to watch those better off than us live ridiculous fantasies in "High Definition" "7.1 surround sound". We love our rich and famous - the "Stars". We worship them with our "People" magazines and our "Talk Shows" - and lets not forget the Grammies. We let others make decisions for us. 4 out of 5 doctors agree. We let corporations buy our Governments. They Live, and They Rule.


Join the resistance. Its time to rally the troops and fight back in the war for our (sub)conscious reality. Time to effect the subliminal subconscious ourselves and reverse engineer Their marketing campaigns and ad slogans. Our researchers have developed technology to help de-program and subversively spread truth. You can make your own clandestine graffiti to spread knowledge (or just your tag.. ahem), or form secret societies whose messages only you (and anyone else who has polarized glasses on..) can see. Heres what you will need and how to do it.


Heres where I found the goods:



Heres the plan: We will take two sheets of polarized gels, and rotate one of them 90 degrees out of phase relative to the other. Put on the polarized glasses. One of the sheets should appear completely translucent while the other is completely opaque. Ok.. if you dont get it, time to use google and "upgrade your grey matter".

Heres a visualization of our idea. We have our polarized gel horiztonally and vertically:

horizontal polarizer vertical polarizer (90 degrees out of phase)

Here we cut out a "V" from one and swap it into the other:

combined combined

If we view these combined gels with polarized glasses, we should get:

viewed through polarized glasses viewed through polarized glasses

Print out your message on some paper and stack your sheets up. You should have your paper on top, and two sheets of polarized gel below (one rotated 90 - thats really important.. I cant stress that enough). Now cut out your message with your x-acto knife. If you have access to a plotter or other machinery to make seamless precision cuts, use it. I attempted to use a laser-cutter - but it melted too much gel away to make seamless cuts. Be careful and go slow. Once you are done, swap the cut-outs of one gel with those of the other. You should have what amounts to two full gels, only with your message 90 degrees out of phase with the surrounding gel like the images above.

Put the glasses back on. You should see your message pop out clear as day. Use the adhesive gels to keep everything in place. I found that although the adhesive gel I used didnt seem very sticky (low tack), once I placed the polarized gel I could not remove the adhesive gel without ripping the polarised gel and generally fucking it all up. So, basically, you only have once chance to get it right. By the way, that goes for your life too.

Caveats/ Things to look out for

The polarized gel I purchased from the Set Shop was pretty dark. The 'lighter' opacity probably the better and less obvious. Also - the gel was much trickier to work with than I expected. It was very brittle, especially if it got cold, and was prone to snapping. Take your time with the Xacto knife and swap blades often. My first attempt (which you see in the video) is actually cracked in certain places and the cut out letters dont quite match. Also, the adhesive gel I used bubbled a bit and wasnt truly 'clear'. Be careful about fingerprints.

I suggest installing these in advertisements or windows that are backlit or glass windows that have lots of light during the day and night as to blow out the slightly darker appearance of the gel to eye.


- vade