American, born 1964
A pioneering figure in contemporary media art, Ben Rubin’s work communicates patterns of information, thought, and language via electronic media. Whether creating a work of intimate or monumental scale, he composes algorithms and computational systems, often relying upon a selected data source to generate nonlinear results. The transformation of the familiar into the unexpected, captured through gracefully simplified forms, results in works that are quietly provocative and that gently turn viewer into participant.
Visible every evening in the Walter Cronkite Plaza, And That’s The Way It Is projects an interwoven grid of text from two sources: closed caption transcripts of five live network news streams and archival transcripts of CBS Evening News broadcasts from the Cronkite era, including those housed at the university’s Briscoe Center for American History. Rubin’s software scans for various patterns in speech and grammatical constructions then selects the sequences of text. The artist visually distinguishes these sources by using two typefaces that evoke the technologies of their respective eras: Courier represents the Cronkite material, and Verdana is used for the live broadcasts.
And That’s The Way It Is translates the spoken language of televised evening news into written fragments. The layering of information—textual and visual, contemporary and historical—engages the viewer in multiple ways: cerebrally, as a distilled source of information, or viscerally, as a purely visual experience of luminescent crescendos and diminuendos. The speed and immediacy of live fragments heightens the viewer’s anticipation from one composition to the next, while the insertion of historical phrases activates a dialogue between the past and the present. Projected on an architectural scale, the work offers streams of language that suggest the media-based activities transpiring behind the façade of the communication building.
Location: CMA, Walter Cronkite Plaza
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