Subliminal Images In Watchtower Art?
brucelewis.com ^ | 2005.10.10 | BitPig [B-Chan]
Posted on Mon Oct 10 2005 01:54:20 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) by B-Chan
As a hobby, I have spent many years collecting art and publications from various esoteric sources -- End Times tracts, religious pamphlets, Communist propaganda, survivalist manuals, nuclear war stuff -- which I collectively refer to as Nut Lit and Nut Art. (I guess the technical term is Ephemera, but let's face it -- the best stuff comes from people and groups who could be accurately described as "nuts".) Most of these I enjoy out of mere historical or artistic interest. Over the years, however, a select few of my Nut Lit finds have provided the Tingle -- that creepy and voyeuristic thrill that comes from peeking into a world outside of the one the rest of the human race inhabits. There's a certain esoteric frisson in looking inside the fevered imaginings of kooky cult, or from seeing the pages that you'd have been frantically flipping as the Soviet missiles began to fall, or from otherwise getting a look at the occult, the confusing, or the just plain crazy.
However, there are works in my collection that I consider to be classics -- Ruckman's Apocalypse, In Time of Emergency, Salem Kirban's End-Times library, and others like them -- which are as valuable for their sensational (and often unintentionally humorous) artwork as they are for the amount of the Tingle I get from them. I am an artist by trade, and I enjoy seeing well-executed art, even if it was executed by some mentally-ill hillbilly preacher, moronic heavy-metal high-school kid, or slick political outfit. I just like the pictures. Certain people and groups tend to put out Nut Art that stands head and shoulders above the rest, however, and of these classics of the Nut Art genre, none stands above those produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society -- the propaganda arm of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
In many ways, the JW art published by the Watchtower is the Cadillac of the Nut Art genre. Their books, magazines, and pamphlets tend to feature big (usually full-color) illustrations (often paintings), well-executed by obviously-professional and always-anonymous artists, each dripping with oversaturated color and often featuring group shots of faces and figures bearing the peculiar stiffness that comes from the copious use of photo reference. These masterpieces of religious imagery often depict sensational Watchtower themes like the fiery destruction of Earth during the Apocalypse, the Scarlet Harlot on her Seven-Headed Beast, and (natch!) the Roman Catholic Church, which the JW hierarchy reckons to be the tool of Satan extraordinaire. Many religious organizations produce art for publication, of course, but only the Watchtower puts out consistently good product. (Art produced on behalf of the Seventh-Day Adventists, for example, is generally of high quality, but tends to be much more directed towards bourgeois tastes and consequently tends to lack the artistic flair that one finds in JW art.) However, other than the Jack Kirby-esque subject matter and the technical quality of the art, there is little Tingle in Watchtower art itself -- no hidden messages, secret symbols, or cryptic cribbings.
That is, until now. Those of you with even a passing interest in Nut Art dare not miss the website I found tonight, a page which opens up a whole new world in the universe of JW art -- a world not just of goofiness and technical prowess but of Tingle (and I mean big time Tingle) -- a world found at the astonishing website of Saifai, a man dedicated to exposing the dark underworld of hidden Satanic images in Watchtower art.
The page is produced by Saifai and his wife Joanne, not by any anti-JW group or other entity. Saifai himself seems to be a fairly nice British bloke of the sleeveless-tee-and-mullet-wearing sort, and his wife Joanne (who incidentally is fairly babealicious -- good on yer, mate!) is by all appearances a nice lady and mother, but what they have to show you regarding Watchtower art will chill you to the marrow. It creeped me out, and as anyone knows I am a difficult person to creep out indeed. Their modus operandi is taking JW art as printed in the Watchtower publications and placing a mirror at the center of each piece of art, creating a new image composed of one-half of each piece viewed forward and backward at the same time -- sort of the visual equivalent of backwards masking in audio. (It sounds complicated, but it's really nothing more than the old funhouse mirror technique -- a trick some of you might remember from Prince's video for "When Doves Cry" -- applied to a piece of static art.) And -- as much as I hate to admit it -- when viewed in this way, the new images formed really do appear to contain composite images that resemble devil's heads, moaning, tortured faces, and psychedelic shapes suggestive of madness and evil.
Of course, I'm no spring chicken when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm well aware of the power of the suggestible human mind to pull "images" out of chaos (e.g. Richard Hoagland), but I gotta say that these pictures are so creepy and disturbing on a gut level that I'm honestly not sure if Saifai and Joanne might not be on to something. Sure, the screaming skulls and beheaded Jesuses that seem to be hidden in the pictures on the site could be mere accidents of the artist's hand, mere random daubs of paint turned into Lovecraftian horrors by my fertile imagination, but the whiff of pure evil I sense in some of the pictures on the site is so strong that if indeed I am imagining it my imagination is far stronger than I had heretofore suspected.
Now, I'm not here to put down anybody's beliefs. The validity or invalidity of the JW faith itself is not the point of this post. I'm talking about the images here, not the organization behind them -- and, bluntly put, Saifai and Joanne's selection of purported subliminal messages in Watchtower art site is odd, disturbing, and not at all unintentionally humorous. This stuff is just weird, no matter who is behind it. It's creepy. It's eerie. It's got the Tingle.
Halloween is coming, and there are things out there a good deal scarier than ghosts and goblins. Whether or not there truly are hidden Satanic images in Watchtower art, you owe it to yourself to check Saifai's site out.
; UnclassifiedKEYWORDS: art
Again: my interest in this topic is professional, not philosophical. This article is not
about the validity or invalidity of the Jehovah's Witnesses faith or beliefs; it is about the theory espoused on the Saifai website and the art in certain JW/WTBS publications displayed there. If I have unintentionally offended anyone in this essay I sincerely apologize.