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And That's the Way It Is


Approx. 100' x 50'

Artist: Ben Rubin

Collaborators:  Jer Thorp, Mark Hansen, Michele Gorman

Moody College of Communication, West Dean Keeton Street, Austin, Texas, USA

And That's the Way It Is (2012), is a public art installation by Ben Rubin; it is permanently installed at Walter Cronkite Plaza, the University of Texas, Austin. Rubin created the piece in collaboration with with statistician Mark Hansen, data artist Jer Thorp, and architect Michele Gorman. Six projectors on a nearby rooftop project text, which is extracted daily from television news closed-caption feeds, onto the University's CMA Building, which is part of the College of Communications. The piece was commissioned by the UT Landmarks public art program.

Listen to the audio guide by Kathleen Forde:

The University of Texas Landmarks commissioned media artist Ben Rubin to create a work of art for The University of Texas’s College of Communication. A pioneer of the electronic arts movement, Rubin is a fitting choice to provide an artistic focal point for the university’s communications disciplines. The six-channel video piece he created, And That’s The Way It Is, is a meditation on 21st century broadcast journalism. It is projected every evening on the façade of a communications building that encloses the newly renamed Walter Cronkite Plaza, dedicated to the university’s well-known alumnus. And That’s The Way It Is consists of an evolving stream of six different text vignettes projected vertically and horizontally on the grid-like façade of the building. Rubin mined both current television news broadcasts and transcripts of historical CBS Evening News broadcasts from the Walter Cronkite era as sources. His proprietary software scans these sources for various patterns in words and phrases, feeding the text vignettes with an ever-changing stream of content. Rubin’s piece visually juxtaposes current news broadcasts with those of Cronkite’s time by presenting them in two different typefaces that evoke the technologies of their respective eras. Rubin’s skilled use of electronic media allows him to connect the past and present through patterns of information. Through his piece he also explores our contemporary practices of sharing and archiving information, both public and private, through electronic media. Overall, Rubin’s piece provides insight and perspective into the study of communications, encouraging students to view the discipline on multiple levels. It raises issues surrounding the definition of news itself, and how communications styles have changed over time. From the method and site of projection, to the content selected, to the content’s style, Ben Rubin’s And That’s The Way It Is embodies artistic skill and innovation and exemplifies appropriateness to site context.

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