A reintepretation of January 31, 2006

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This peice was created for the class "New Media Art Production." The prompt was: "Use new media to update, remake, or pay homage to a historical art project." 1 Additionally, the work was required to be under 10 minutes.

On January 31, 2006, President George W. Bush gave the annual State of the Union Address. Whitehouse.gov defines the address as follows:Since Washington's first speech to Congress, U.S. Presidents have "from time to time" given Congress an assessment of the condition of the union. Presidents have used the opportunity to present their goals and agenda through broad ideas or specific details. [...] With the advent of radio and television, the President's annual message has become not only a conversation between the President and Congress but also an opportunity for the President to communicate with the American people at the same time. [...] Whatever the form, content, delivery method or broadcast medium, the President's annual address is a backdrop for national unity. The State of the Union gives the President an opportunity to reflect on the past while presenting his hopes for the future to Congress, the American people and the world. (Whitehouse.gov)
This work is a reinterpretation of that highly publicized, national event. The interpretation was inspired by the recordings of Raoul Hausmann's sound poetry (which he referred to as "Optophonetics"2) and the anti-art nature of the Dada movement. Inverting the audio of the President's speech, I intended to imitate the sound poetry audibly and conceptually: Take any sentence and print it backwards!
sdrawkcab ti tnirp dna ecnetnes yna ekat !

Now redistribute the sentence on different lines
ti tnirp dna
ecnetnes yna
ekat !

and that's how to write a phonetic poem! (Hausmann, "Optophonemes" 3[])
The work does not reorder the lines of the President's speech as Hausmann reorder his. Doing so would have demand that the video be cut in order to match the audio of the speech. Because I had hoped to maintain the realistic nature of the original address as a means of commenting upon the authenticity of the spectacle-everything looks to be in its proper, "meaningful" place--I refrained from editing the video between the opening and close of the work.

The President begins with a commemoration of Coretta Scott King.


Listed chronologically

  • Aquired address footage via Google Video
  • Cut the address into the desired segment using Quicktime Pro
  • Extracted the audio from the original file using iMovie
  • Spliced the speech audio in Audacity, typically using 3-5 words before reversing the audio ussing the application's "Effects"
  • Applied fade-in and fade-out effects to the audio using Audacity
  • Imported and aligned the audio track with the video
  • Exported the work in DVI and .mov formats


Hardware: iBook G4, Powerbook G4.
Software: iMovie, Audacity, Quicktime Pro, "Firefox."

Files used in this work:2006 State of the Union Footage

January 31, 2006

Media:January_31_2006-Web.mov (Please note: this is a low quality version of the final work)

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