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ARGUENDO opens at the Public Theater

Vin Knight and Mike Iveson in Arguendo at the Public Theater. September 2013. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Vin Knight and Mike Iveson in Arguendo at the Public Theater, New York. Sep 2013. Photo: Joan Marcus.


A new play by Elevator Repair Service Theater Company

Projection design by Ben Rubin and The Office for Creative Research
Sept 24 through Oct. 27 at the Public Theater, NYC
Click here for tickets and information

The New York Times Review

Arguendo re-enacts the 1991 Supreme Court Case Barnes v. Glen Theatre, initiated by a group of go-go dancers against an Indiana law banning public nudity. Electronically mediated with references to relevant court cases and the First Amendment, the play provides insight into the complex interactions between attorneys, judges, and citizens inside the courtroom. The entire oral argument is staged verbatim, interspersed with real interviews from the lawyers, justices, and an exotic dancer claiming her first amendment right to express herself nude. The play explores the moral boundaries & societal codes governing dance and self-expression. Arguendo was co-commissioned by The Public Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage and Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. Arguendo was workshopped at The Public’s 2013 Under the Radar Festival and developed in part at The Bushwick Starr, New York Theatre Workshop and at Abrons Art Center, Vineyard Arts Project and LaMaMa E.T.C.
Ben Williams. Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Ben Williams. Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times


Susie Sokol, Ben Williams, Vin Knight and Mike Iveson. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Susie Sokol, Ben Williams, Vin Knight and Mike Iveson. Photo: Joan Marcus.


Mike Iveson. Photo: Paula Court.

Mike Iveson. Photo: Paula Court.


Susie Sokol, Vin Knight and Mike Iveson. Photo: Joan Marcus.

Susie Sokol, Vin Knight and Mike Iveson. Photo: Joan Marcus.


Created and Performed by Elevator Repair Service
Performers: Maggie Hoffman, Mike Iveson, Vin Knight, Susie Sokol, Ben Williams
Director: John Collins
Set Designer: David Zinn
Lighting Designer: Mark Barton
Costume Designer: Jacob A. Climer
Sound Designer: Matt Tierney
Projection Designer: Ben Rubin

Media software by The Office for Creative Research:
Ian Ardouin-Fumat, Ben Rubin, Jer Thorp, Noa Younse

Producer: Ariana Smart Truman
Production Stage Manager & Assistant Director: Sarah Hughes
Production Manager: Adam Shive
Movement Dramaturg: Katherine Profeta
Associate Projection Designer & Operator: Eva von Schweinitz
Associate Lighting Designer: Dans Maree Sheehan
Associate Producer: Lindsay Hockaday
Advisors to the Project: Emily Bazelon, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz

ERS ensemble members Frank Boyd and Kate Scelsa contributed to the development of Arguendo. Frank Boyd played Mr. Ennis during workshop productions at The Guiding Lights Weekend (March 2012) and The Bushwick Starr (May 2012). Kate Scelsa developed the part of Rebecca Jackson for the workshop production at The Public’s Under the Radar Festival (January 2013).

Thanks to Floyd Abrams, Amy Adler, Bill Araiza, Kate Aufses, Nell Breyer, Douglas Curtis, Elizabeth Derbes, Mark Fleming, Linda Greenhouse, Mark Hansen, Katie Henderson, Bob Kerrey, Charles Platt, Robert C. Post, Lawrence Stierhoff, Pamela Talkin, Nelson Tebbe, Jeffrey Toobin, Ben Wizner, and Paul Wolfson.

Press: The New York Times Review

SHUFFLE at the New York Public Library

FuturePerfect and the New York Public Library present


by Elevator Repair Service,

with Mark Hansen, and Ben Rubin

New York Premiere

The New York Public Library
DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018

Saturday, May 21, 1pm – 6pm
Sunday, May 22, 1pm – 4pm

Shuffle will be performed continuously during these hours; you may enter and leave at any time. The performance is free, and no tickets or reservations are required.

Shuffle is an entirely new kind of ERS performance, one with constantly re-generated text and a dream-like logic. Through this collaboration with installation artist Ben Rubin and UCLA statistician Mark Hansen, the company looks back on its last three pieces through the lens of creative data analysis. The result is a site-specific mash-up where the company attempts to read The Great Gatsby, The Sound and the Fury, and The Sun Also Rises simultaneously.


photo: Wayne Ashley / FuturePerfect


Following its lauded production of Gatz at the Public Theater, Elevator Repair Service joins forces with artist Ben Rubin and statistician Mark Hansen to present Shuffle, a new performance installation that provides a fresh look at literature we thought we knew. The scripts are generated in real time by computer algorithms that recombine phrases from iconic works by Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. Emerging from behind the crowded stacks of The New York Public Library’s DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room and spilling out into its oak paneled reading area, ERS actors seamlessly blend with viewers and perform surprising new kind of micro-theater.

More details are here on the Elevator Repair Service website.

Directed by 2010 Guggenheim fellow John Collins. Text processing and design by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen.

The performance is part of the New York Public Library’s weekend-long centennial celebration.

This development of this work has been supported by the FuturePerfect Festival, the Rockefeller Foundation’s New Media Fellowship Program, and by a residency at the Park Avenue Armory.


Created by: Elevator Repair Service with Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen
Director: John Collins
Text Processing and Design: Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen
Producer: Ariana Smart Truman
Stage Manager/Assistant Director: Sarah Hughes
Technical Director: Michael Clemow
Company Manager: Lindsay Hockaday
Assistant to the Director: Katherine Brook

Frank Boyd
Sarah Hughes
Mike Iveson
Vin Knight
Annie McNamara
Kate Scelsa
Kaneza Schaal
Scott Shepherd
Susie Sokol
Lucy Taylor
Matt Tierney
Victoria Vazquez
Ben Williams
Special thanks to Jer Thorp and Michele Gorman



The New York Times Review
The New Yorker Review

VECTORS opens January 13, 2011

Feb 5, 2011:  New photos
videos, and descriptions
are HERE

Preliminary press information and background is below:

Ben Rubin

Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
14 January – 18 February, 2011
505 W24th Street (at 10th Ave), New York, NY 10011
Opening Reception:  13 January, 6-8pm

Detail from Trajectories Series (2011), Mixed media, dimensions variable

Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by multi-media artist Ben Rubin.

In his first solo show at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, Ben Rubin uses mid-20th-century technological artifacts, miniature image projection, sound, and electronic text displays to reveal vectors of movement, language, politics, and information.

The show will feature all new work, including The Language of Diplomacy (2010-2011), a 24-foot text wall that mines the newest Wikileaks collection of diplomatic cables, searching for lexical patterns and linguistic constructions that may point to new layers of meaning.  This work is the next in Rubin’s ongoing series of large-scale language visualizations that began with his groundbreaking installation Listening Post (2002), and has continued with Moveable Type (2007, commissioned by The New York Times for its lobby), and Shakespeare Machine (2012, for the lobby of the Public Theater).

In 2010, Rubin began An Anecdotal History, a new series of sculptural work based around pre-digital media and communication artifacts (oscilloscopes, typewriters, cameras, loudspeakers), and these works will be shown here for the first time.

Other works in the show include One Bit Per Second (2010), a mechanical semaphore transmitter, Afghanistan Stability/Counterintelligence Dynamics, a diagrammatic abstraction of the coalition forces’ war strategy, and Boundary Conditions (2010), a new series of miniature video projections that focuses on the dynamics of borders (political and otherwise).

The Boundary Conditions series is a direct outgrowth of the work I did for Paul Virilio’s Stop-Eject exhibition in 2008, says Rubin.  That show centered around the collapse of geographic and political space in the mobile, connected world, and Virilio wanted the artists to show how people, goods, animals, money, and information flow across borders of all kinds.  This got me thinking about vectors as a way to characterize these flows, and from there I started to see how vectors actually connect much of the work that I do.

A moving train is a vector.  The wind blowing from the northeast at seven miles per hour is a vector.  The change in the price of Google’s stock is a vector.  When you look at it statistically, any collection of language — a novel, a newspaper, an archive — is packed with vectors.  A vector is an indicator, a hint, a single clue about where we’re headed.  If we could somehow understand all the vectors that influence our trajectory at a given instant, we would be able to briefly glimpse the future.

Ben Rubin (b. 1964, Boston, Massachusetts) is a media artist based in New York City. Rubin’s work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Science Museum, London, and has been shown at the Whitney Museum in New York, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris, and the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. Rubin has created large-scale public artworks for the New York Times, the city of San José, and the Minneapolis Public Library.  He is currently developing a site-specific sculpture called Shakespeare Machine for the Public Theater in New York, and just completed Beacon (2010), a luminous rooftop sculpture commissioned for National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

Rubin has worked closely with major figures in contemporary culture, including composer Steve Reich, architects Diller+Scofidio/Renfro, Renzo Piano, James Polsheck, and James Sanders, performers Laurie Anderson and Arto Lindsay, theorists Bruno Latour and Paul Virilio, and artists Ann Hamilton and Beryl Korot. He frequently collaborates with UCLA statistician Mark Hansen, and their joint projects include Moveable Type (2007), and Listening Post (2002), which won the 2004 Golden Nica Prize from Ars Electronica as well as a Webby award in 2003. In 2011, Rubin and Mark Hansen will join forces with the Elevator Repair Service theater ensemble to present Shuffle, a new performance and installation that will re-mix text from three American novels of the 1920s.

Rubin received a B.A. from Brown University in 1987 and an M.S. from the MIT Media Lab in 1989.  He is on the faculty of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU and has previously taught at the Bard MFA program and the Yale School of Art, where he was appointed critic in graphic design in 2004. During the Fall of 2010, he taught a new graduate seminar, An Anecdotal History of Sound, at NYU/ITP.

For further information, please contact Amanda Bhalla Wilkes at (212) 243 8830 or by email at

Radiolab Live

On April 14th hosts of the WNYC radio show Radiolab, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, presented the first in a series of live evening Awe-maggedon events “designed to tickle the mind and surprise the eyes.”

Jad and Robert invited Ben and Princeton University Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Iain Couzin to inaugurate the event series with presentations about their work. Both Ben and Iain showed projects that examine and encourage new thinking about swarms and communication. From locusts to the stock market, the evening was full of fascinating and entertaining topics and provocations for just the kind of cacophonous chatter that interest both Ben and Iain.

You can watch a video of Awe-maggedon here.