Hindsight is Always 20/20 Kyle Stration
The gallery that I chose to visit was â€śHindsight is Always 20/20â€? by R. Luke DuBois. The exhibit was a series of prints that analyzed the State of the Union address from each of the 44 presidents and organized each of their 66 most commonly used words from the most frequently used to the less frequent. Each pieceâ€™s composition was identical to all the rest, with the only difference being what words were printed, and what president gave the address. Each print was very simple, just like an eye chart. They were dark black ink printed on white paper in a white frame. A nice detail was that just like at the doctorâ€™s office, DuBois had printed the numbers on the edges that say what your vision is, and how far you should stand from the piece. The pieces were organized in order of the presidents, so the first that anyone saw was George Washingtonâ€™s and the last, George Bushâ€™s. Barack Obama was included, but his was on a computer since he gave his address after the gallery had been set up.
The main theme of the exhibition was to show what each president said in their addresses. I believe that what DuBois was pointing out was what each president thought was most important in their presidency, or at least what they wanted the public to see as most important. The biggest boldest words stood out in a much more visual sense than they did when each president gave their address, but in the same way that the repetition of those words made people think about them, so too does the sheer size of some words. A few examples of these words were, â€śDEMOCRAT, UNEMPLOYMENT, WAGES, SLAVERY, EMACIPATION, SOVIET, CHANGEâ€?, and my favorite, â€śTERRORâ€?. It was interesting to me to be able to place a time frame on some of the major words. â€śSLAVERYâ€?, and â€śEMANCIPATIONâ€? both came near Lincolnâ€™s presidency, â€śSOVIETâ€? during the time of the Cold War, with a few extremely obvious ones in our recent history like â€śTERRORâ€? from president Bush, and â€śCHANGEâ€? from Obama. Though DuBois came up with the idea and ultimately executed it, his name is in the background. The names that are remembered are the names of the individual presidents that gave the State of the Union address.
Personally my favorite print was Jimmy Carterâ€™s. A few of his boldest words were, â€śUS, Afghanistan, Iran, Global, Funding, Solar, Administrations, Israelâ€?, and â€śMinorityâ€?. As the words got smaller, they read, â€śRefugees, Arts, Elderly, Healthy, Disadvantaged, Launched, Hazardousâ€?, and â€śSolveâ€?. I found this interesting because the words that appeared I felt could have been switched with President Bushâ€™s with few changes. It is weird to me that the problems we were facing in the 1980â€™s seem strikingly similar to those we faced in the last administration, and will likely continue to face in the future. I think that these two in particular (Bush and Carter) make an interesting commentary on what little change has occurred in my lifetime. The fact that concerns of each could be so similar even while separated by more than 20 years is frightening.
I would suggest that people go to see this exhibit, especially if they have much of an interest in politics or American history. With the speeches dissected, and the most common words taken out of their original context one might think that the messages would be lost, or misinterpreted. I think, however, in some instances picking and choosing the most common words makes them all the more important. At the same time, the chosen words begin an interesting discussion about each president. And as is often the goal with artists, DuBois gets people talking about his work through this exhibit.