Aperture magazine at the Democratic National Convention, Night 3
Joe Biden acceptance speech. August 27, 2008. Democratic National Convention. Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado. Photo by Jon Winet.
David Levi Strauss, Aperture magazine contributing editor, noted writer, and current Chair of MFA Art Criticism and Writing Department, School of Visual Arts, shares his unique perspective via daily dispatches from the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
I’m writing to you from inside a machine for producing words and images. If anything happens here at the Pepsi Center that is not recorded, it is a wasted act, a kind of sin. Everyone here is divided into use-groups, indicated by the colored tags hanging from their necks. Security forces check the tags constantly to insure compliance.
First, there are the Politicians, the stars, the reason we’re all here. Some of them are so important that they don’t even wear tags. Their images are so ubiquitous and recognizable that they transcend the need for secondary identification.
Next comes the Designated Crowd, also called delegates. Their job is to dress extravagantly and react enthusiastically to everything the Politicians do. They must act as if they’re on-camera at all times, even in the most supposedly private of moments, because when you become part of the Designated Crowd, you sacrifice your identity and image to the greater Image.
The Press is here to record and interpret every act and gesture of the Politicians and the Designated Crowd. The Press is divided into Word People and Image People, and in this setting, the Image People have the upper hand. The Press is also divided into the Mainstream Media and the Bloggers. The MSM have whole buildings (called Media Pavilions) dedicated to their every need or want. They have lounges and cafes and bars. And they have degrees of unlimited access. Some of them have such recognizable images that they have themselves become stars: Wolf, Anderson, Katie, Cokie, Matt. One sees them on the Floor, perfect and motionless, until the cameras roll and they spring to life.
The lowest caste of all is the Bloggers. They are image-less drones, crammed into crowded warrens in tents, outbuildings, and basements, plugged into their pitiful terminals, eating scraps falling from above. They exist at the outer edges of the Machine for Producing Words & Images, closest to the Unwashed, the Irrelevant.
Tonight, the Machine moves.
Filed on Thursday, August 28, 2008, after the third night of the DNC.