POWER || The Presidential Campaign and the Rise to the Top

Made by Frank Liao

Expressing the desire for power and for the top spot in our nation, while stealing art and making money.

Created: September 8th, 2016



My original idea was to create a grocery store style weekly ad for presidential candidates. Since so much of the presidential election process is focused around money and campaigning in order to gain votes, I decided to express the idea of "Presidential Solicitation and Voter Consumerism". As my idea sat, I decided that the importance and aggressiveness of campaigning was just a byproduct of a larger goal. In reality, the election revolves around the pot at the end of the rainbow: presidential power. My intentions evolved into expressing the desire for power that plagues all campaigns.



The piece I created was focused heavily around the theme of Kanye West's song and video "Power", which you can watch below. The video includes many  motifs about power and has become extremely popular in pop culture. Throughout the video, Kanye is depicted as a man of great power; as the camera zooms out over his subjects, the extent of his domain is slowly revealed. However, the song "Power" not only expresses the general desire, but is also about the instability of power and how unreliable it is to be at the top. At the end of the  video, Kanye is seen to be the victim of an attempted assassination and is assumed to be overthrown. As this is happening to him, all of his subjects are gone.

Similarly, my intentions were to express the general desire for power in the presidential election, so I decided to create my artwork in a similar fashion.

Kanye West - POWER
KanyeWestVEVO - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L53gjP-TtGE


I took two frames from Kanye's video: one with all of Kanye's subjects and one without. This way, I could replace some of the subjects along with Kanye himself while keeping some of his subjects as filler by cutting them from the second frame. First, I had to adjust certain areas of the background by removing figures such as Kanye while cloning certain areas of the picture in order to keep the integrity of the scene while still being able to replace the people in the original video. The substitutes for the replaced figures are all presidential candidates along with the current president, Barack Obama. I scoured the internet for appropriate pictures of the presidential candidates then used photoshop to insert them into the scene, making sure to adjust the image to fit the color and exposure of the background.



The product is a scene similar to the one from Kanye's video. The current man of great power is Barack Obama. The assassins can be seen as representations of the US people or US government, ready to "overthrow" Obama and replace him with one of the presidential candidates. 4 presidential candidates are seen to be hanging out around the scene; each of them desires to be around the "power" while vying for attention from the viewer, who represent the media or the general populace viewing the media. The two major candidates, Trump and Hilary, are close to Obama, towards the center of the scene, while the two lesser candidates, Stein and Johnson, are towards the outer ends of the piece. In the background is a translucent Bernie Sanders because RIP the Sanders campaign.

For a higher quality image: http://imgur.com/a/be6Xj



I believe my final product was a good representation of my intents. It does a good job of expressing the desire for attention and power by the presidential candidates while showing how unreliable the top position is currently. In the scene, Obama is a smaller figure. While in the center, a lot of attention goes towards the higher saturated figures on next to him and on the sides of the scene. Similarly, a lot of attention is brought to the candidates in real life.

The execution of replacing the figures in the scene is not perfect, but does an okay job of making the characters seem like they fit in the scene.



Throughout creating this piece, my view of the presidential election process deepened. From the beginning, it was quite obvious that campaigning is a crucial part to becoming a successful candidate. But the extent of how overwhelming these campaigns are was something that wasn't easily seen. Every candidate is vying for a spot as the most powerful person in the country and, arguably, the world. Every person in the entire country that is even the least bit involved in politics is also vicariously hungry for power, hoping that their most relevant candidate will be successful. During this time, it's much less about developing our nation and much more about who will have the power to develop our nation. While it is only a subtle difference in words, it's a huge difference in the atmosphere and environment revolving around the election and its voters. The parallels are most evident in the media; as we get closer to the general election, we hear much less about Obama and what is going on at the top of our nation surrounding important issues, and much more about which candidate said what or did what wrong.

Although the presence of power is unavoidably felt due to how aggressive candidates must campaign in order to do well, it's important to remember that the nation comes before the power.

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Expressing the desire for power and for the top spot in our nation, while stealing art and making money.