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Hindsight is Always 20/20

Hindsight Is Always 20/20 is a one-person exhibition by R. Luke DuBois with one artwork for each president of the United States, totaling 43 prints. Each piece is a print of a Snellen-style eye chart, but instead of random letters, the chart is composed of words from each president’s State of the Union address. Words that are commonly used in everyday speech such as “I, the, am, are,� etc. are taken out, and the words are ordered by the frequency of their use in the address. The prints are presented in chronological order by president, wrapping around the room and a freestanding wall.

As I went around the exhibit, I began to compare each piece to the next. I found it interesting to try to pick out the style of each president’s address according to the words they used most. They also seemed to give snapshots of the United States at the point in time at which the address was made. It was also intriguing to compare the first print (that of George Washington) with the last (that of George W. Bush). I believe that one objective of the exhibit is to display the change in the state of our country under each president. Another focus of the exhibit may be to highlight the use of catchphrases and words manipulated by the government and the press. The first word is the largest and is centered, catching the audience’s eye and demanding a person’s attention. The next two are smaller and certainly less impressive, and anything after that becomes a jumble that most can’t be bothered to read. This demonstrates how most speeches given nowadays carry all their importance in a few repeated words that are used to intimidate or otherwise influence their audiences.

The last work, which used George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, was the most interesting to me. The first and largest word – and thus the most frequently used in the speech – was “terror,� a word that America has gotten very used to hearing. I was surprised to realize that Bush has been coining this word ever since his State of the Union address, and not just since the attacks on September 11th.

I would suggest this exhibit to a friend, because it gives a different perspective on the progress of our country as well as all 43 of our presidents. It offers clips of history that can be viewed both chronologically and comparatively.

George Washington:

Ronald Reagan: