Group 3: Animation: Hidden Messages

Initially the project began in a collaborative journey of learning and creativity. Cyber security is a hidden digital ‘thing’ where the work explored materials with properties outside of the visible electromagnetic spectrum and use them to produce hidden images. This idea resulted in artworks focusing on information that is not visible/understandable but then due to a change in perspective the information appears. Tools were provided to ‘decode’ the exhibition.

‘Steal The Shown’ forms a trail of (6) pieces of work, created by Nick Lewis and Mel Bacon, forming a representation of the Data that is often stolen through phishing scams and malware. These pieces of information are often hidden in plain sight or given freely.

  • Email address – input into any sign-up sheet online
  • Password – often used across multiple sites
  • Date of Birth – shown on profiles and input into sign-up sheets
  • Debit card numbers – input to make purchases
  • Bank details – stored on purchase website such as amazon
  • Password clues – “cat” can be used to guess passwords

The of the art works are all displayed in a way that requires looking at them with a different perspective using interactive art to complete a puzzle to teach about Phishing scams. The ideas progressed so that the separate pieces formed a hunt and find style trail around the gallery.

To create a connection between each piece of work it was suggested that it was the information of one specific person, however as using real details would potentially cause harm, a fictional character was created. The entire persona was created based on a Date of Birth as a specific number of special lights to create a layout pattern were needed. The limit was 300 LEDs so 21/10/1961 was chosen as it used 259 leds, which gave enough spare in case of malfunctions.

Hidden Layers – LED display viewed via mobile Phone – Mel Bacon

Alongside this date two of the most commonly used names, Michael and John and the most common Surname of Smith were selected creating a name of Mike J Smithson.

A number for his debit card was randomly generated and an email address created to be sure that no real person would be contacted The password was created based on the password requirements of a capital letter, a lowercase letter, a number and a punctuation mark. The birth month flower (of Marigold which is also a female name) was used creating a password of Marigold.61

Hidden Password – Mel Bacon

The title of the combination of works was suggested to be ‘Steal the Show’ or ‘Cyber Art’ so that each one could be linked together with a logo. The title evolved to ‘Steal the Shown’ to be more aligned to the concept.

The Hunt

Insidious cyber world

Creeping behind your back

Seeking out your secrets

To pop in your cyber pack

Kitty the Kat you talk about

The first pet that you had

Phished for as your PORNSTAR NAME

A thrill for feeling bad

Remember your mother’s maiden name

Family memories make you smile

All those special birthday dates

The hackers grab with guile

Messages from your ‘providers’

Gas, electric, phone for real

“Just return your bank details

To get a special deal”

Find us in exhibits

Hidden in plain sight

Layers of encryption

The cyber world is bright

Grabbing bytes of data

The AI bots have spoken

Reflections of your universe

In Cyber Eyes Wide Open

Layering information visibility

Different levels and layers of information visibility, representing the hiding and obscuring of information with different approaches to seeing it. Likely to be interactive and/or require active engagement. The artwork will have a series of linked information reveals, for example panels that appear blank yet where the image can be seen by shining a UV light on it that is then reflected in a mirror panel and then as a polarised screen, etc. providing a hidden meaning changed from the original image.

Hidden Layers – Mel Bacon

Reflective understanding

The final pieces in this project produced artworks and mirrors to explore how distorted, distributed information can be reflected into comprehensible messages. Through positioning mirrors in certain points, what appears to be innocuous patterns could for example turn into a hidden, jumbled up password that could enable access to another interaction / exhibit, etc.

Reflections – Nick Lewis



Nick Lewis       

Artist and Lecturer


Mel Bacon       


Steve 0’Connell

Advantex Network solutions Ltd