Kenyon College

Hindsight is Always 20/20, 2003

Luke Dubois
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Luke Dubois (b. 1966)

Hindsight is Always 20/20, 2003.

Colored pencil, graphite, ink, pen, and acrylic on paper.
47 x 80 inches.
The Progressive Corporate Art Collection.

Sleek and coy, Luke Dubois’s Hindsight is Always 20/20 synthesizes 41 extant State of the Union presidential addresses up through President George W. Bush, organizing their most frequently used words into the familiar descending format of the Snellar eye chart. Combining the format of the eye chart with the rhetoric of the American President, Hindsight is Always 20/20, echoes and explores the metaphorical vision the electorate must hope for in each successive leader.

By citation of the eye chart form and its less-than light-handed title, Hindsight is Always 20/20 asks questions about the leaders we chose and will choose. Likewise, it captures the verbal texture of society in the historical moment in which they attained the highest office in the land. Each chart presents an efficient portrait for the policies championed by its corresponding President, as well as the rhetoric they employed to express those goals and thus likely the verbal climate of the American political scene at any one moment. In arranging the charts, Dubois excerpted words extremely common to all addresses (such as: “united,” “states,” “the,” “his,” “am,”). Words used by several Presidents repeatedly are reserved singularly for the orator who employed them most frequently. Words like “terrorism” contrast sharply with phrases like “manifest destiny,” testifying to the radically diverse agenda, and accompanying vocabulary, of the nation and its leaders across its relatively short life. In their standardized format and systematic approach, Hindsight is Always 20/20 possibly exemplifies an unbiased method of political art making by way of generative processes. Personal commentary or opinion from Dubois seems almost impossible—the words, and so, the works, appear to speak for themselves.

Dubois’s work exists as both a series of prints, as seen here, as well as set of illuminated light boxes that completely mimic the ophthalmological experience.

Grant Johnson ’11
Former Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator