ABOUT THE PROJECT
Electo Electro 2020 is an interactive art installation combining audience participation, technology, music, news footage, and politics. iMacs running a custom Max MSP Jitter software patch are housed in voting booths that once held Diebold Accuvote TS voting computers. The patch makes it possible for participants to remix debate footage from the 2020 American presidential election cycle in a structured sixteen-beat loop that plays on the iMac screen and a set of speakers. Each station also utilizes an iPad as an interactive graphic user interface – a reference to musical devices such as the Roland TR 808.
Roland TR 808
Diebold Accuvote TS
The touchscreen design of Electo Electro 2020 is a parody of the touchscreen system employed by the Diebold Accuvote TS, a defunct voting system that was difficult to audit and susceptible to hacking. The parody continues into the format of the installation itself, which resembles a polling station. An installation can have as few as two stations or as many as ten. The format is an open one that allows anyone visiting the installation to interact with the stations. The project aspires to encourage those who interact with it to examine media and become individuals who can control media, rather than be controlled by it.
In 2003, a group of researchers discovered a long list of vulnerabilities in the Accuvote TS, including several hardware and software entry points resulting in opportunities to steal votes, lose votes, or render the machine itself unusable. The Diebold Accuvote TS system embodied a breakdown of the democratic process. It had no built-in auditing via paper. The computer used code that was owned by its parent company and can’t be checked or audited. State-level voter databases associated with this voting system have seen serious security breaches. Its manufacturer has been embroiled in scandals including questionable affiliations between political officials and corporate executives. Government officials at the state level who supported the Diebold system’s use have been involved in various lawsuits. Despite all these issues, this system was used as recently as 2018 in Georgia during its gubernatorial election.
Voting machines such as the Accuvote TS are DREs – Direct Recording Electronic systems. The flaws found in the Accuvote TS are not unique to that particular system. Many DRE systems are equally susceptible to similar security threats.
To read a paper about the project's development, click HERE.
Presentation for IEEE VISAP 2020 Conference
Mike Richison is a multimedia artist and an Assistant Professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey where he teaches motion graphics. He employs a variety of approaches including sculpture, graphic design, and interactive video. His work utilizes found objects such as turntables, voting booths, and scavenged video clips as well as the Max MSP Jitter programming environment. Mike has exhibited at Autonomous Cultural Centre Medika (Zagreb, Croatia); Figment NYC and Art in Odd Places (New York); and Peters Valley School of Craft and Morris Museum (New Jersey). His projects have received attention in outlets such as Leonardo, Noisey (Music by VICE), FACT Magazine, Hyperallergic,
Create Digital Music, WABC-TV Channel 7 News New York, and The Washington Post. Before moving to New Jersey in 2007, he lived in the Detroit, Michigan area for several years.
artist website: www.mikerichison.com
Electo Electro 2020 is a continuation of an earlier project from 2016: Video Voto Matic. This project also converted a vintage voting booth into a video sequencer. The Max MSP Jitter interface manipulates and sequences video from the presidential candidate debates. Users punch their rhythm into a “voting booklet” that mimics the infamous Votomatic voting machines.
VIDEO VOTO MATIC (2016)
EXQUISITE E PLURIBUS UNUM (2012)
Many of these ideas behind Video Voto Matic and Electo Electro started with Exquisite E Pluribus Unum. Utilizing the 2012 presidential campaign footage as raw material, this performance sampled words, phrases, breaths, pauses, and other sounds and silences in order to build percussion tracks and melodies.
You can see more of these projects at www.mikerichison.com.