Propaganda – Power and Persuasion, The British Library

The White-Haired Girl, Chinese film poster (1950), The British Library.

This exhibition explored efforts to persuade and cajole individuals and populations from the ancient world through to the twenty first century. Posters, prints, books, leaflets, films, badges, stamps, and matchboxes were just a few of the media that showed the massive explosion of propaganda over the last 100 years. Alongside iconic historic examples we displayed surprising unusual and rare pieces, illustrating how the techniques of propaganda have become widely deployed. The final section touched on the current relationship between the media and politicians, alongside the stellar rise of social networks as a key propaganda battleground.

Chorus, Propaganda, The British Library by Field.
Chorus by Field for Propaganda at The British Library.

Chorus, an animated, evolving, three-metre projection of Twitter messages, was a highlight in the final section of the exhibition. Across three archived and two live scenes, the piece showed how messages spread across social media, making us all potentially propaganda tools. Consoles in front of the wall showed some of the web pages that individual messages link to, as well as providing an opportunity for visitor feedback and discussion.

Stephen provided interpretation consultancy on the project, in particular developing the exhibition text so that engaging stories came out as part of a compelling overall narrative. Stephen managed the pitch and development of the Twitter installation, ensuring this challenging digital piece segued well with the more traditional media of the rest of the exhibition. Stephen was the author of the gallery guide which presents a user’s guide to basic propaganda techniques.

Exhibition and graphic design was provided by Twelve Studio and Chorus, the Twitter installation, was developed by Field. The British Library’s exhibition team and social sciences curatorial department formed the backbone of the project.