On the 25th anniversary of the Publius Enigma I was interviewed on Time 4 The Show radio program telling most of it. The YouTubes below are parts 1, 2, 3 and 4
From the Media:
The Publius Enigma is a puzzle or alternate reality game connected with Pink Floyd’s 1994 album The Division Bell. It was perhaps the first Internet-based promotion for a major band, coming at a time before most artists or record labels had any kind of official Internet presence.
The Publius Enigma is named after a messenger calling himself Publius who posted clues on a Pink Floyd internet newsgroup, soon after the launch of The Division Bell world tour. These cryptic posts claimed that there was an enigma hidden within the album, and that an unspecified reward awaited the person or persons to solve the puzzle.
“The Division Bell is not like its predecessors. Although all great music is subject to multiple interpretations, in this case there is a central purpose and a designed solution. For the ingenious person (or group of persons) who recognizes this—and where this information points to—a unique prize has been secreted.”
Many Pink Floyd fans were skeptical, so Publius agreed to provide proof of his authenticity. On 16 July 1994 he delivered a prediction:
“Monday, July 18, East Rutherford, New Jersey. Approximately 10:30pm. Flashing white lights. There is an enigma.”
On the night in question at approximately 10:30 p.m. during the concert, white lights in front of the stage spelled out the words ENIGMA and PUBLIUS while the band performed as predicted. Video of the Giants Stadium event can now be seen on YouTube. Confirmation of the enigma was given again nearing the end of the tour, this time to a much larger audience. On 20 October 1994, during a televised concert at Earl’s Court, London, the word ENIGMA was projected in large letters on to the backdrop of the stage. The projection can be seen on the P*U*L*S*E concert video (during the song “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)”).
The word ENIGMA that appeared projected on the stage during Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) was originally the word, with no embellishments. On the P.U.L.S.E video, embellishments were added so that it could still be seen, but was less obvious. On the P.U.L.S.E DVD, it was overlaid with L=mc2, which changed to E = mc². It is quite clear the footage had been extensively edited to remove the word ENIGMA in all but the final few frames before the flash of light, when it is still clearly visible with no embellishments other than the scribbles that covered the screen a few seconds before. At the end of the concert, the logo for the DVD authoring company Das Boot uses an enigma machine as their logo, a subtle reminder that the enigma was still unsolved. Some die-hard enigma hunters have invested years of hard work to find a solution to the enigma presented by Publius.
To read Publius messages sent to the Pink Floyd newsgroup, see link below
New York Times
February 16, 1995
The Pop Life
By Neil Strauss
A Riddle Continues If you examine the booklet that accompanies the December release of Pink Floyd’s 1987 album, “Momentary Lapse of Reason,” on minidisk (a digital alternative to the cassette), on the sixth page, in the corner of a picture of a man standing on a cliff, you’ll find the word “enigma” printed in small white capital letters. Eight pages later, printed in the corner of a picture of a man standing in a wheat field with a scythe, you’ll find the word “Publius.” There is no apparent reason for the recent addition of these words to the packaging, but their presence has stimulated an odd treasure hunt that has been taking place on the Internet since last summer.
It was then that someone using the pseudonym Publius began posting messages at the computer address alt.music.pink-floyd, a Pink Floyd discussion group, claiming that in the artwork, lyrics and music of Pink Floyd’s latest album, “The Division Bell,” there was a puzzle with “a central purpose and a designed solution.” “For those of you willing to think through this perplexing and intricate problem,” Publius wrote, “a singular prize awaits.”
To satisfy skeptics who doubted his or her connection to Pink Floyd, Publius promised to put all doubts to rest on July 18 in East Rutherford, N.J. During a Pink Floyd concert at Giants Stadium that night, Publius kept the promise, and in the middle of the song “Keep Talking,” from “The Division Bell,” the bank of small lights at the bottom of Pink Floyd’s stage arranged to form the words “Enigma Publius,” a phrase that had not been spelled out in lights on any previous stop on the tour. In November, during Pink Floyd’s pay-per-view concert, the word “enigma” appeared again, this time in large letters on a projection behind the band.
In a letter I received last year after interviewing the members of Pink Floyd, a group of treasure hunters who called themselves the Publius Concern explained that “hundreds of people have begun exchanging ideas and looking further into the puzzle” but that they were wondering whether the band itself was behind this brain teaser. The letter, which came with hundreds of pages of Internet postings on the subject, asked if anyone in the band had talked about the puzzle.
The only one who had hinted at mysteries on the album was David Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s singer, guitarist and lyricist. When asked about the unusual sounds on the record, like atmospheric radio noise and a phone conversation between his manager and the son of his girlfriend, Mr. Gilmour said, “I like puzzling people.” When asked whether certain songs were about the group’s former leader, Roger Waters, he answered with an elusive smile: “Are they? You’ll just have to work it out for yourself.”
Other attempts to pin down the meanings to songs resulted in similarly vague answers about “clues” to be given in forthcoming videos and promises that “there’s all sorts of other things” on the album.
February 19, 1995 the Chicago Tribune printed the above article