Sunday, October 26, 2008

The T-Shirt Matrix: What Images of Obama Tell us about Obama (and Us)

As interesting as the possible Obama t-shirt options are, perhaps even more intriguing is the effect of this unintentional tic-tac-toe matrix.

As an individual icon, Obama's visage is now no longer noteworthy; it's even quotidian. But, when arranged in this nearly collage-type design, the various images enter into dialogue with each other. They tell us how we have seen, and perhaps even tell us how we should see Obama.

They also demonstrate the various ways Obama's face has been translated into popular culture. In this case, what emerges is overwhelming evidence for a kind of mytholigization of Obama. Many of these suggest a sort of abstract, woodcut aesthetic that evokes either propaganda or political art. However, almost none of the images are particularly "patriotic," which suggests the degree to which Obama's Obamaness transcends politics.

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