• 9.27.16

    The Campaign Gets Technical with Mario Wagner

    It’s estimated that last night 100 million viewers tuned in to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald trump engage in their first Presidential Debate. It was a raucous 90 minutes that caused the audience to burst into cheers and jeers more than a few times against the protest of the Debate Commission who requested silent spectators. Of the 100 million that watched at home, a huge portion of that contingency watched online, streaming video through their website of choice and experiencing these candidates through the portal of their personal computers. No artist has a better grasp of how we relate to technology than Mario Wagner. His aesthetic and resulting work constantly plumbs the relationship that our real lives have with technology so Inc. Magazine asked him to identify that relationship and how it involves our presidential candidates.

    A huge part of any presidential election is the “horse race”: what people call the almost daily tracking of polls. Pervasive technology has made these snapshots faster and easier to complete, and therefore there are a lot more of them. We understand them almost immediately as the information is streamed to users instantly – it’s gotten to the point that who the candidates are is almost irrelevant. We can just watch the numbers. Wagner illustrates this idea with his split portraits of the candidates, dominated by Venn diagrams and scatterplots. He takes it further with an additional image showing a faceless citizen engage in the electoral process through his devices. Additionally, three faceless women engage in their own political cheering, behind a graph that tracks how ideas and passions change over time.

    Technology has the opportunity to democratize the world, and help us understand our processes better than we already do. But there’s always a risk there. We must maintain the humanity of what we’re doing and how we’re engaging with each other. Mario shows us how it works, and works successfully today, but also asks if we’re going in the right direction. Only time will tell.

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