If posed with a choice for president to rival Barack Obama -- one that extended even beyond the current GOP or Democratic field -- who would your choice be? For one Los Angeles-based artist, Weston James, his choice would be none other than the late Apple visionary Steve Jobs.
That is the focus of James' latest work, in which he challenges patrons to cast their vote for either "Obama or Steve Jobs."
"With all his accomplishments and his deep understanding of running one of the most successful companies in the world, would Steve Jobs have more success running the country than Obama?" asks James on his website, which features the artwork.
The piece, titled "Obama & Steve," originally exhibited in a Los Angeles art gallery and is now back at the artists' studio undergoing finishing touches. According to James, while guests of the exhibit were able to cast their votes on the interactive artwork -- complete with an iPad featuring specialized software -- in person, others can do so online at the Obama and Steve website.
From the site:
It started with posing an interesting question: Obama or Steve Jobs? It then snowballed into a social experiment. With all his accomplishments and his deep understanding of running one of the most successful companies in the world, would Steve Jobs have more success running the country than Obama? The answer might not be clear but it certainly calls to light that there is room for discussion. Staying true to the democratic process, the answer is in the hands of the people. Place your thumbprint, make your choice, and help spread the word.
Obama and Steve is a piece that questions the politics of today. Interactive on multiple levels, the piece is meant to provoke emotions and capture reactions while documenting its reach. The unique setup of this piece allows the viewers to vote for either Obama or Steve. The results will be tallied on January 1st and the piece will be sold for the total amount of votes, thus generating a measurable log of the effect the piece had and establishing an equation for valuation.
When asked who attended the exhibit for his unusual and thought-provoking piece, James told The Blaze that the audience ranged in age from teenagers to people in their 60's, of all different income brackets -- from "MOCA and Getty types," to up and coming graffiti artists. In fact, one prominent artist in attendance was the man famous for his Soviet-era propagandist style depictions of Barack Obama, Shepard Fairy. All of the gallery guests cast their votes for either Jobs or Obama during the exhibition.
"Demographics, genders, income levels and social backgrounds didn't make a difference," James told The Blaze. "It was great to see people with decades in age difference discussing and debating social topics, which is exactly what I had hoped for of the piece."
Currently James is in the process of adding additional elements to the work to highlight "the involvement of the audience" before it is to be sold.
"One thing that you will see is the addition of a series of fingerprints to symbolically visualize the number of people who have cast their votes," James said, adding that piece will be finished after voting closes on New Year's day 2012. James intends for 20 percent of the proceeds to go to charity.
When asked if the lone fingerprint currently visible on the piece represents his own, James replied "yes" and said his inspiration and ultimate goal is simply to motivate people to "keep talking"
"I just put the ingredients out there, the real art is what everyone creates in their discussion and dialogue. There are so many things that fly by so fast today without discussion it is really sad."
But while James admits that he likes stoking the fires of debate, he is "not pushing a set agenda or point of view" in his artwork.
"I feel that in a discussion like this it is inevitable that we create new viewpoints, alignment, understanding and hopefully inspirations that will hopefully lead to actions of change and improvement for the world around us," he told The Blaze.
For James, what matters most is what those who view the piece will take away from it, and what they "will do with the inspiration from this conversation."
"It would be great to have millions of people take notice, but if at the end of the day one person can take some inspiration from this discussion and do something great with it for themselves, their community or ideally the world at large than this piece will have meant something. It will have fulfilled its purpose and lived my intention for it."
"For me it will be to create more, to start more fires and hopefully light a few sparks in those people that come to experience the work and conversation."
To vote for either Obama or Steve Jobs, you can visit James website Obama and Steve and let us know if you voted.