Skip

Gentlemen, France limits enemy parties. Tonight truly barrels us deficits.
November 20, 2010 2:14 PM   Subscribe

HINDSIGHT IS ALWAYS 20/20 is an information art piece. Artist/composer R. Luke DuBois [previously] manipulated the text of individual State of the Union addresses from each presidency, sorting the words according to frequency of use, to generate a Snellen eye chart for each President.

Frequent words appear in larger text at the top, less frequent words in decreasing size towards the bottom.

The 66-member word lists . . . are designed to draw out the most unique and contemporary vocabulary used by the president in his speeches. . . words that are not only important in a given presidency, but also au courant in terms of lexicon and contemporary context.

The aim of the piece is to make a statement about the perennial political metaphor of vision. . . The choice of words employed by a given presidential administration to articulate its message is in many ways its signature.


Hint: There's a menu along the bottom, but you can just click in the middle of each chart to move on to the next.
posted by Herodios (24 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very cool. A little too form over function, but neat nonetheless.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:27 PM on November 20, 2010


Nixon sure said 'Truly' a lot. In hindsight, that probably meant he was lying.
posted by box at 2:30 PM on November 20, 2010


I'm wondering how McKinley managed to say "Puerto" significantly more than "Rico".

Was he interrupted a lot?
posted by rog at 2:41 PM on November 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, you can say "Puerto Rico," but also "Puerto Rican," "Puerto Ricans," "Puerto Ricola," and very occasionally "Puerto Ricolalia," which is a disorder which causes automatic repetition of songs from West Side Story.
posted by Rinku at 2:46 PM on November 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


Haha. Good point, well made.
posted by rog at 3:01 PM on November 20, 2010


Crude but effective, albeit less so for partisans.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:24 PM on November 20, 2010


If these were emails they wouldn't make it to my inbox.
posted by clarknova at 4:03 PM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is great! Some lessons gleaned from these for future presidents:

- If the best theme you can come up with is "deem," don't act surprised when history largely forgets you.
- If "thereby" is in your top three lines, you might be an old windbag.
posted by Xezlec at 4:14 PM on November 20, 2010


Hint: A website which needs a hint as to the navigation can be safely assumed, without visiting it, to be poorly designed.

Followup: Assumption Confirmed.
posted by Aquaman at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is actually a pared-down psychohistorical group-fantasy analysis. It uses one of the technique's three fitlers: repeated nouns and verbs.

The other two filters are emotionally-charged terms and Freudian keywords.

Here's a fun web-based tool I and some friends made that does this for you: at least with two of the three criteria. Funnily enough, we also pre-loaded the text field with a (then current) G. W. Bush state of the union speech.
posted by clarknova at 4:44 PM on November 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


DO NOT TRY NO
OR THERE IS

Yoda / A Long Time Ago

posted by oulipian at 4:49 PM on November 20, 2010


ITS AN EMPIRIKAL EYE CHART.
posted by clavdivs at 5:19 PM on November 20, 2010


Very similar to a fantastic piece I saw performed by musician Adam Fong a few years ago called "2005 Address of State the Union" in which the words of the address (as published) are ordered alphabetically, and read aloud. Hearing George Bush's vocabulary (eg, the word "security" repeated 23 times in a row) this way had a simultaneously numbing and infuriating effect. It was a chilling experience - enhanced even more by its being performed in Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes mausoleum.
posted by memewit at 5:26 PM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like a line on Clinton's eye chart (I mean, regular chart):

LOSE CHILDREN'S CAMPAIGN BAN INTERNET

What a frighteningly vague string of words.
posted by Askiba at 5:50 PM on November 20, 2010


The aim of the chart is to allow optomotrists to assess a patient's vision...

Optomotrists check your driving. Optometrists check your vision.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:57 PM on November 20, 2010


LOSE CHILDREN'S CAMPAIGN BAN INTERNET

What a frighteningly vague string of words.


Actually, it's the tightest summation of the Clinton-era argument for net censorship I've ever seen.
posted by clarknova at 6:27 PM on November 20, 2010


Group fantasy-analysis scores again!
posted by clarknova at 6:29 PM on November 20, 2010


If I ever start an indy band, I'm totally gonna name it the

POOR CONSUMER BEAUTY POLICE
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:39 PM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am enjoying this opportunity to do my political science/history major geekout thing and click randomly and guess which president it is on the basis of just the top two lines.

It surprises me not at all that the very easiest one so far was Andrew Jackson.
posted by SMPA at 7:18 PM on November 20, 2010




It took me a while to figure out that '21st' in Clinton's referred to the next century.

Nixon's 'Truly' is such a giveaway.
posted by unSane at 5:42 AM on November 21, 2010


WHY THE HELL
DOES EVERY VISUAL
artist have to use Flash
to present a series of static images?

posted by spitefulcrow at 12:50 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


In retrospect, hindsight isn't even 20/20.
posted by SteelyDuran at 3:52 PM on November 21, 2010


See also, as a tag cloud, by year.
posted by and for no one at 7:27 PM on November 21, 2010


« Older Do bears still shit in the woods?   |   Turkish-Russian graphics at grafikerler.net Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post