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November 6, 2008

More Thoughts On The Obama Picture: Pixels And Glass

I wanted to look for a moment at three fascinating and, I believe, important photos courtesy of The BAG’s good friend, photojournalist Tim Fadek. (Yes, by the way, that is the same Timothy Fadek immortalized by this shot last November on the cover of The NYT.)
For me, very simply, each one of these photos Tim captured at the Grant Park victory celebration thematically sets the table for a different political and visual facet of the Obama administration. I would lay it out this way:
Image #1: How is Obama going to manage expectations (the effort already underway) given a tendency to make him larger than life? For our purposes, of course, I’m wondering how this will play out visually. (As just a simple example, have you been noticing all the life-size Obama cut-outs — 1, 2, 3 — that people around the world have been parading with?)
Image #2: You might recall that BushCo. recently remodeled and technically upgraded the WH Press Room? With visual media technology progressing at leaps-and-bounds, I’ll be very interested in how well and creatively Team Obama applies it, and the ways it will shape our impressions over the next 4 years. (When I saw CNN’s holographic demo the other night, it made me wonder if Obama will be the first C.I.C. to give the State of the Union in someone’s living room.) Back to this photo (mindful off all the shots Alan Chin captured at the DNC set up with Obama on the jumbo screen), I find such a lusciousness in not just the video image but the juxtaposition of the digital and real-life.
Image #3 In each of the shots, but particularly the third, what seems both easy as well as impossible to avoid is the security glass.
I didn’t hear much mention of it in the media stories, but visually, it certainly carried a good deal of symbolic weight. In hypothesizing on Obama’s manner that evening (which, in part, I saw as an interest to move it along), it was impossible to dispense with the possibility that the new President-elect, as part of the mix, had some security concerns. Going forward, I don’t want to make an inordinate deal about Obama’s safety. At the same time, I don’t want to avert my eyes when the subject or issue is plain to see.
(image: © Tim Fadek. Grant Park. November 5, 2008. linked image: Diane Bondareff, Associated Press. November 30, 2007. via
  • donna

    Actually, I see it as capturing the transparency of this administration, after the secrecy of the last eight years. With Obama, things are out in the open, but still kept safe. I kind of like that idea rather than the shadows, secrecy and fear of the Bush administration and the McCain campaign. “No drama”, just get it done, and in a way that is clear and easily seen.

  • Pete

    I thought it was security glass at first glance while watching live, but it didn’t surround him. I then realized it was probably for sound purposes, to shield the mics from crowd noise. As a guitarist, I’ve played in bands where we put up a piece of plexiglas between the drummer and the musician next to them so they can hear the monitor or to keep the drums from bleeding into a vocal mic. Also, if you heard the CNN reporter trying to report from the crowd in Grant park, you couldn’t hear her. Also, the photographer clearly had a “shot” so to speak uninhibited by the glass, so I doubt it was for security.

  • Susan

    I believe the plexiglass on either side of the stage is to help focus sound, not for security.
    It’s a fairly common practice in large arenas.
    Also, not a security expert, but don’t think the plexiglass would do much protecting anyway.

  • Tim Fadek

    This was 2 inch think bullet resistant plexiglass, nothing to do with sound. Because of increased threats, Obama’s round the clock secret service security detail is twice that of George Bush and most previous presidents.

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