R. Luke DuBois is particularly excited about his show “A More Perfect Union” at SITE Santa Fe because it’s the first time he’s been able to exhibit work from all his political projects in the same show and see the evolution of these projects that were created from 2008 through 2017.
DuBois’ “Hindsight is Always 20/20,” 41 framed letterpress prints on Somerset paper, is central to the exhibit, which runs through April 4. These prints contain the top 66 words used most frequently in the first 41 presidents’ State of the Union addresses set up in the format of the Snellen eye chart.
“The State of the Union is an evolving body of rhetoric,” DuBois says. “I think a lot about language and ways in which language is used in our culture. A lot of what each president says is pretty different from the others. Reading their words is a real history lesson.”
The State of the Union has changed over time, DuBois explains. In the 19th century, it was a pretty boring paper report. It wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson assumed office that the State of the Union was heard on the radio. When televisions were a fixture in most homes in the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson gave his report to citizens who could not only hear but see him.
DuBois was surprised by the words that emerged in his “A More Perfect Union” ink jet on canvas project that merges data from online dating websites with statistics from the U.S. Census to create a portrait of American demographics. He joined 21 different online sites and dowloaded 19 million profiles of single Americans. Profiles were sorted by zip code and analyzed for recurring words so DuBois could put together a perspective on how Americans looking for love describe themselves.
“I expected sports teams and local things to come up,” he adds, “but some of the words that were dominant were revelatory.”
Among the other projects in the exhibit are “32 Questions for DeRay Mckesson,” a multi-dimensional portrait of this American civil rights activist, and “Obama,” an audio portrait of Barack Obama.
DuBois is a composer, performer, conceptual new media artist, programmer and teacher from New York who earned a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University. He comes to SITE Santa Fe on March 15 to talk about the projects in the show and the other activities in which he’s involved.