In ads every detail is put there intentionally to do something to the viewer.

One purpose is to DISTRACT you from something (focusing your attention away from something and towards something else)

Another purpose is to seize your attention--and hold onto it, perhaps for days, weeks, months--without you realizing that someone has intended to seize it.

Black Velvet No Breast

As you scan across and down from the left corner, does anything appear strange to you? Really look at it now.

Look at the cut of her dress. Doesn't something seem to be missing on one side, other than the black velvet dress material? Or is it just that the model is mis-shapen.

One characteristic of Black Velvet ads is that the black dress always appeared to be painted onto the model, in a way that you could almost notice it, but barely.

It's always interesting how people react to such things. As Madonna showed, a bra covers just as much as a bathing suit top. But because we are trained to think of a bra as underclothing, the problem is not how much it actually covers, but how much it un-covers in our mind.

A woman wearing a bra instead of a bathing suit top seems more naked even when she is just as covered--and even if she is more covered by it.

The same psycho-logic applies to black velvet. We all know that people are naked under their clothing but we don't consciously think of it that way every time we see people. But when graphic artists paint clothing on a model, the ad then says: if we hadn't painted this clothing on, you would be seeing her naked. The idea of sexuality becomes attached to a product that otherwise has nothing to do with sexuality--unless you count the idea of getting someone drunk to have sex with them. This can be a reminder of that.

This ad was done before there was a computer on every desk that could do special effects. Back then it was a common technique in advertising to start with a photographic slide of a real 'scene.'

That slide would be projected onto a large canvas. The projected image was then painted onto the canvas. In the process, any part of it could be altered--details left out. Details added in. The manipulation of layers of attention.

The large painting was then rephotographed and severely reduced in size. so that it could be used on a magazine or newspaper page.

Surrealism: The Disturbing_Element


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