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Olivia Fialkow - To The Right?

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The Project:

This video remix seeks to examine the relationship between politics and advertising through the editing and manipulation of campaign adverts. 

I began this project by first asking a number of questions: How do the 2012 presidential candidates choose to represent themselves in the media, and most specifically, in online media? What common motifs do these videos incorporate, and what do they accomplish? In asking these initial questions, I started to query the "digital integrity" of each individual candiate, to wonder if these online peas for public support were nothing more than simply manipulations of both imagery and fact, and to question if this advertising tactic was even effective in winning citizen support.

In performing my initial research, I chose to narrow the topic of my project down to the current Republican candidates, rather than focus on past candidates from both parties. Video campaign advertisements are far from revolutionary (they've been around since 1952), but in the age of modern technology and media, the ways in which viewers relate to understand these advertisements are on a completely different level. During the course of research, it became obvious that each candidate was using video (mostly uploaded to YouTube) as a way to appeal to voters in a way that not only appealed to the public's desire for fetishized Americana, but spoke directly to the family and moral values of conservative voters.

I chose four recent video advertisements, one from each of the Republican candidates, and in FinalCut Pro, stripped each clip for any imagery that would identify the segment as part of a political publicity machine. What I was left with were shots of landscapes, of American industry, shots that displayed nostalgia for "bygone America," and scenes that seemed to have been pulled from Hollywood action films (as was the case with the scenes left from the Paul and Santorum advertisements.) I then arranged and collaged the clips in short cuts, reminiscent of the original advertisements themselves.

I was careful to manipulate the movement in all of the clips so that it flowed to the right, a symbol of the right-wing politics that had originally generated these videos. This element is the only definite indication that any of the collaged scenes and images originally had any sort of political tone. The film is quite short, but intentionally so. I wanted the length to be comprable to that of many of the ads from which I borrowed content.

I consider myself a liberal, and I plan to vote as such. However, this project proved to be an education in not only conservative values and campaign messages, but in political advertising in general. The aim of this undertaking was to not only reveal and comprehend the underlying truths and thematic elements of both the adverts and the candidates themselves, but to understand the power of images in context and the ways in which they literally and subliminally influence the viewer.

Process:

 

Materials/Resources:

Video: Newt Gingrich's "Rebuilding the America We Love" (December, 2011)
Video: Ron Paul's "Chinese Debt" (November, 2011)
Video: Rick Santorum's "Rombo" (February, 2012)
Video: Mitt Romney's "Growing Up" (February, 2012)

Audio: Aphex Twin's "Nannou" (From the Windowlicker  EP, 1999)

All sound and video elements were created in FinalCut Pro.

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