Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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30 x 24 in.
Inc on Canvas
RAMOS: thank you for joining me Jeff
I am fascinated by the rigor you put into this coming election - or perhaps it is not just about this election
so i'd like to know a little more about your intention with this series
i am guessing it started with the dot and say that because it is the most abstract and least technical
MILLETT: great to be back..it's been bit
so, the series really started as just an intuitive reaction to two things - the political and a microcosm of that - this particular election
its really a territory of knowledge that i had not really engaged in before the 2016 presidential campaign
it started with the dots, which plot the history of each presidential election by each state, blue being democrat, republican red
and evolved from there
RAMOS: what did you learn from the dots series?
i loved, for example, the year it was all one color - what president was that?
MILLETT: i've learned a lot..the dots are order alphabetically, so i began to see the partisanship of the states, yet also there evolution over time as the demographics of the country have changed
its kinda amazing, in my opinion, that something relative simple can produce so much content and complexity as you investigate more and more
ha i think you are referring to two elections - Nixon in 72' and Reagan in 84' where they crushed
there opponents only won one state each
RAMOS: right - that's so crazy
the idea that the whole country was united
MILLETT: its telling too, a direct reflection of the climate of the country
also a fun tangent - the representation is not always so truthful
RAMOS: how do you mean?
MILLETT: the 1960' election between Kennedy and Nixon is the closest ever, yet you would not know it strictly by the dot representation
Kennedy won the popular vote by something crazy - like .1% and two state swung the election in his favor, Indiana and Texas
also, the Bush-Gore 2000, with Florida
that led me into the 'Swing State' series, the bigger line pieces
RAMOS: gotcha - so the line pieces are a more detail version as opposed to a stretch out dot?
MILLETT: yes the crazy thing is now with data mining, polling etc the election is really about 9 states give or take
we can keep zooming to the demographic county of voter makeup
it gets really wonky
but i was fascinated at the depth of analysis
so the three larger horizontal line pieces are the 3 swing state most experts agree can/will determine this election, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania
RAMOS: does that mean, that most states vote for a party instead of a person?
and then a handful are the inverse
MILLETT: yes historically thats right on
although Trump has changed that in some states
the interest in the swing states are they are a more realistic representation of the demographic makeup of the country
and where it's headed
RAMOS: not sure what you mean with your last statement
how is it a more realistic representation?'
MILLETT: these states have diverse demographics due to immigration factors, esp Florida and Pennsylvania
meaning they are a microcosm for the future demographic makeup of the country as whole over time
of course things could always change and i'm definitely no expert
RAMOS: are you suggesting that the entire united states will be a giant metropolis?
that every state will be as diverse as the "Swing States"
that's a bit optimistic
MILLETT: ha i mean i don't think that will happen, but what is happening is the country demographics are changing rapidly
state demographic makeup will depend on opportunity, jobs, etc and some seizing that opportunity for growth
RAMOS: how closely connected are those opportunities with the president?
MILLETT: great question
im not sure i really have that answer
RAMOS: you have opinions
MILLETT: obviously we have two very different approaches to that
RAMOS: you mean top down or ground up?
MILLETT: sure i mean i really think this election is something similar to Brexit
a referendum on globalization
for me i don't know if its a top down-bottom up thing
RAMOS: a referendum on globalization - do you mean if Trump wins it is just like Brexit getting past?
and if Hillary wins, it is about focusing on leading the world?
MILLETT: yes i mean thats a good summary
it seems citizens are making a choice..and globalization was/is is the freedom of movement of goods & people (immigration)
we could say in the big picture of things Trump & Brexit reject that
*goods = finance, commodities, etc.
RAMOS: as citizens, are we voting for what is best for the country or what is best for the world?
MILLETT: this is an amazing question and i could go on forever on this..ill try to keep it simple
are we citizens of the world or of a country? in my opinion citizens now are scared of the unknown - the unknown that is coming is a border less world through the digitization
the world is less and less about place
*and since citizens fear the unknown, they rely on history and the comfort of the past to guide them to a future
this type of thinking is dated
but i get it
and i think now education is such a tremendous necessity for a productive future for all citizens, no matter what country
because people are scared and Trump plays on such fear
RAMOS: education is an entirely different (although super relevant) subject
more and more, conventional education is becoming obsolete, also thanks to the Internet and available resources and also thanks to how expensive it is.... but as it relates to your point, you mean education as awareness right?
people need knowledge to make informed decisions
RAMOS: and in this subject of globalization - what knowledge is there that would diminish the allergic reaction we have to open borders and spending resources on foreign affairs - of which we know very little, especially as to the intentions behind it and who truly benefits
MILLETT: of course i mean this not black and white and is super gray
but for me this requires transparency and i believe (maybe naively) that technology & digitization brings us closer to real accountability
for all parties - from government to multinationals to citizens
RAMOS: right - that is a bit optimistic - it is just like saying "communism can work if people weren't self-centered, selfish, and lazy"
but beyond that - no Internet will reveal true intentions - allow me to take a harsher perspective
we have Trump - a real estate developer - has spread his buildings all over the country - but there is enough room for growth... enough for his lifetime
so there is no reason to focus on anywhere but here - business wise, this is good enough
now Clinton... for her values and her income, the US is simply too small - so much to be had out there... so let's expand ties, let's build that pipeline worldwide
does that makes sense?
granted, i have no idea what Clinton's business is really about - i am assuming it is no brick and mortar
MILLETT: i'd say it like this..
reminder, no system is perfect nor can satisfy all parties involve
Clinton is to build on an existing infrastructure - global capital that obviously needs to be tweaked
Trump is offering to tear the existing down, pack up and go home
RAMOS: i get that - i'm looking at motives
at the end of the day - it is a personal gain
one way or another
my question is
is it really ever about what is good for the world?
MILLETT: thats fair even cynical no?
RAMOS: i think it's sadly obvious
MILLETT: understood, i think this election comes down to the lesser evil
i do not think for a second politicians in general are motivated by the collective betterment
but as citizens we have choice, and those choices need to be informed is all
RAMOS: the only information i know is that my choices are about who will I help become richer
and between the two evils... i am either helping Trump make a "better" country so that there are more Trump Towers everywhere I go - or - helping Clinton exhaust this relatively small global community to expands her tentacles around the world
MILLETT: umm yep
amazing how personal politics gets its amazing
RAMOS: it's not politics if it's personal
and that's what's so frustrating i guess
MILLETT: disagree - your personal opinion shapes your political decision
as you just said in the above statement
RAMOS: what i mean is - if the "politicians" are all about their personal gain, it is no longer politics
MILLETT: sure i mean thats one opinion of many
but citizens need to take responsibility for that as well
these people are put in this position
the consequences of that are what we see this year