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By Christian Holland

Sosolimited performed a visual and aural remix of the first presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain last Friday night at the ICA, and the sound posted below is a sampling of their audience's responses. Though everyone I talked to was an Obama supporter, not everyone enjoyed sosolimited's presentation of the debates.


Well, if the performance was an essay, what would its thesis be? You might suggest that sosolimited's work is pure abstraction, but this can't be the case as they're using politically and culturally significant imagery at the moment of its peak importance: a live stream of a U.S. presidential debate. Though sosolimited claim their performance was nonpartisan, it won't be perceived so by many.

One of the devices sosolimted use counts certain keywords spoken by the candidates as the words come over the close-caption feed. The idea of counting words came up again and again when pundits and strategists tried to leverage their candidate's ostensible victory. The Obama camp immediately came out and said that McCain never said the phrase "middle class" during the debate. The McCain camp said that Obama never said "victory." According to sosolimited, this information may be nonpartisan, but not if you're partisan it's a different story.

The viewer's preconceptions of both candidates, as is even the case if they were watch the debate in person, determined their response. Filtered through sosolimited's software, the message of each candidate was parsed into bits of information lacking the context that sitting in the debate's audience or even watching the debate on TV would entail. The rhetorical effect of each candidate's words, therefore, end up in varying states of exaggeration, depending on how much the viewer wants or expects to hear certain words.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO SOME RESPONSES TO reConstitution (MP3 - 3 minutes)


ICA Boston


"reConstitution" was performed at the ICA on September 26, 2008.

editor's note: Audio includes sound not only from the event, but one clip each from sosolimited's website promoting reConstitution 2008 and their 2004 performance of reConstitution.


About Author

Christian Holland is an aspiring New York City-based essayist who likes writing about how New York City isn't the center of the world. He was executive editor and founding contributor of Big, Red & Shiny, and sat on the publication's board for V2.

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