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portfolio : democratic presidential candidates

see also: republican presidential candidates

These images of the candidates for President of the United States in the 2008 election are part of a larger multimedia work titled "Vote Machines." This project casts an unflinching and uncompromising eye on the presidential election process and the candidates, with a special focus on the candidates' own efforts to sell themselves in the electronic media.

The 2008 election cycle will almost certainly be known as the one in which video became an essential part of the campaign for the presidency. Vote Machines focuses extensively on the candidates' use of video, drawing heavily on their own web sites and using this raw material to document the campaign and investigate the candidates' portrayals of themselves in this medium.

Vote Machines uses still images of the candidates, culled from the candidates' own web sites, and mediates these images through a variety of commonly used electronic devices - to investigate the extent to which the candidates' "biological" personas are increasingly indistinguishable from their personas in the electronic media. By retaining clear evidence of their travels from one electronic source to another, these images lay bare the extent to which our individual and cultural identities are inseparable from the electronic media. They also lay bare the extent to which the electronic media impede genuine communication and distance us from others.

The larger project also focuses attention on the candidates' use of language by analyzing their own videos and presenting them in such a way as to highlight the words that are spoken most often. However, Vote Machines goes further than simply to reinforce the commonly held notion that political dialogue is not truthful. It also exposes the extent to which all portrayals in the lens-based media, including the exploding medium of web-based video, are inherently incomplete, untruthful, and have difficulty penetrating beyond the surface of their subject matter, even while they lure us in and titillate us with their constant motion and dancing lights on the screen.