Archives for : Public Projects

And That’s The Way It Is


And That’s The Way It Is is a collaboration between the University of Texas’s public art program Landmarks and The Office for Creative Research from the spring of 2012. Drawing on transcripts from the Cronkite archives held by the Briscoe Center and live news feeds from around the country, Rubin has designed a digital interface that intertwines Cronkite’s legendary broadcasts with contemporary journalism projected into a choreographed basket weave across the CMA facade. In this, we see Cronkite’s transcripts represented by the Courier font while the live news is represented by Verdana. As a group of sixty students, faculty, and art enthusiasts gathered for the debut of the piece, the collective loud of the crowd carried throughout the newly appointed Walter Cronkite courtyard and struck the appropriate tonality for this unveiling: acknowledging communication.

The projection begins with the visual transcripts from the first 30 minute broadcast Walter Cronkite gave in 1963. This seminal broadcast includes an interview with then President John F Kennedy and marks a turning point in Cronkite’s relationship with CBS, a career that would span almost 20 years. It also ushers the viewer into an era rife with conflict, with Cronkite driving the dialogue to poignancy.


Photos of And That’s The Way It Is on Flickr


2013 CoD+A Award Winner, Public Spaces category
2013 Public Art Network year-in-review, selected project. “The Public Art Network Year in Review program recognizes exemplary and innovative, permanent or temporary public art works created or debuted in the previous calendar year.”



How to Make a Shakespeare Machine

Shakespeare Machine is a permanent artwork in the lobby of the Public Theater in New York City. It was commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent-for-Art program and the Public Theater.  It was opened to the public in October, 2012.

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The work is by Ben Rubin with a great deal of help from statistician Mark Hansen, who collaborated with on all aspects of Shakespearian digital dramaturgy, and architect Michele Gorman, who conceptualized and realized the form of the piece with me.

Electrical engineering and fabrication services were provided by Marty Chafkin of Perfection Electricks and Will Pickering of Parallel Development.

Processing software development by Ian Ardouin-Fumat and Jer Thorp.

Structural engineering support provided by Guy Nordenson and Associates.

The work was also the recipient of enormous quantities of patience and good will from the teams at Anead Architects, Pentagram, the Public Theater, the NYC Dept. of Design and Construction, and the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs.

And a special thanks to those who shared their insights into Shakespeare’s writing: James Shapiro, Stephen Greenblatt, Barry Edelstein, Oskar Eustis, and my English-major parents, David & Elly Rubin.


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Art Info


2012 Award Winner for Excellence in Design, presented in July 2013 by the Public Design Commission of the City of New York
2013 CoD+A Awards, top 100 projects, Public Spaces Category


BEACON at the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia

Beacon (2010) is an light sculpture created by media artist Ben Rubin; its animated shapes are based on the unique visual structure of the pages of the Talmud. It was commissioned by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, where it was permanently installed in November, 2010.

The Talmud is the central document of Jewish law, and it represents a vital conversation that has taken place over centuries. Each page of the Talmud is a unique graphic rendition of that conversation: a primary text is surrounded by layers of commentary, dissent, and counterargument, all arranged in concentric layers around the passage.   Beacon animates the Talmud by transforming each page into simple luminous shapes and then moving theses shapes through seven planes of LED light.  The result is an illuminated volume, brightest at its core, in a continual state of change.

From the museum’s press release:

Beacon is a permanent LED light installation created by media artist Ben Rubin. It glows from the top of the museum’s glass envelope facade on the fifth floor terrace at the southeast corner of Fifth and Market streets, where it  overlooks Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the National Constitution Center.  The sculpture employs 2,688 LED nodes arranged on seven parallel mesh panels, each 64-inches wide by 96-inches tall, spaced 16-inches apart.

The sculpture’s luminous forms are drawn directly from more than 5,000 pages of the Talmud, one of the central texts of Judaism.  Rubin has transformed the layout of each Talmud page into a simplified graphic composition and programmed the pages to move in a fluid sequence through the installation’s seven planes of light, adding the glow from this essential Jewish text to Philadelphia’s nighttime skyline.

Its name, Beacon, suggests a light that leads the way to the Museum and also to the fundamental values of freedom, justice and the law, values embodied in both the Talmud and the U.S. Constitution.

National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA (Photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto, courtesy of National Museum of American Jewish History)

Conceptual rendering, 2009 (image: Michele Gorman)

Serial study, 2009 (rendering: Michele Gorman)


Philadelphia Inquirer: National Museum of American Jewish History topped by a new light sculpture
By Tom Stoelker, July 22, 2010

High-resolution images can be downloaded here.
Please contact EAR Studio to request permission for publication.

Project credits:

Design & Modeling: Michele Gorman / EAR Studio Inc.
Fabrication & Engineering: Marty Chafkin / Perfection Electricks
LED Systems: RGB Lights, Chicago

Moveable Type

Moveable Type by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin


Moveable Type, by New York artist Ben Rubin and U.C.L.A. associate professor Mark Hansen, is an artwork commissioned for the ground-floor lobby of The New York Times Building in New York City. It is a dynamic portrait of The Times. Statistical methods and natural-language processing algorithms are used to parse the daily output of the paper (news, features, editorials) and the archives, as well as the activity of visitors to (browsing, searching, commenting). The resulting refracted view of The Times is displayed on 560 vacuum-fluorescent display screens installed in the lobby.

Moveable Type is located in the lobby of the New York Times Building on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets in New York City. It is free and open to the public in the public Monday – Saturday, 8am – 7pm.

Moveable Type



Photos of Moveable Type on Flickr


The New York Times
Media Bistro

San Jose Semaphore


SEMAPHORE: a visual apparatus for communicating messages over distance.

San Jose Semaphore (2006), by artist Ben Rubin, is a permanent public artwork commissioned by Adobe Systems Incorporated in collaboration with the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program.

Located within the top floors of Adobe’s Almaden Tower headquarters in San Jose, California, San Jose Semaphore is a kinetic artwork that illuminates the San Jose skyline with the transmission of a coded message. Like the Semaphore Telegraphs of the 18th century, the San Jose Semaphore is a machine for communication. Each wheel of the San Jose Semaphore can assume four distinct positions: vertical, horizontal, and left and right-leaning diagonal; together, the four wheels have a vocabulary of 256 possible states. San Jose Semaphore transmits its message at a steady rate; its four wheels turn to new positions every 7.2 seconds.

Adobe’s Almaden Tower is situated directly beneath the flight path for aircraft landing at the Mineta San Jose International Airport, and the San Jose Semaphore is sensitive to the passage of aircraft above it. When a plane flies overhead, Semaphore reacts visibly to the disturbance, and its steady rhythm is broken. After the plane has passed, the disks resume their steady, purposeful transmission.

San Jose Semaphore is a slow-motion magnifier for data transmission that functions as a beacon in the San Jose skyline. Unlike digital signals that pass invisibly through the air and across microscopic circuitry, the San Jose Semaphore’s communication efforts are visible and clear.

Location: San Jose, CA

Photos of San Jose Semaphore on Flickr

And below is a slide show with a few images:


1.  Huffington Post

Four Stories

Built into the structure of the two glass elevator cabs in Library Hall, “Four Stories” displays the titles of recently checked-out books in large, illuminated text as the elevators move between floors. This text is visible from much of the Library Hall. “Four Stories” is a permanent public artwork commissioned by the city of Minneapolis.

Dimensions: two panels, each 48″ x 90″ (122 cm x 229 cm)

Media / Technology: Addressable LED tube fixtures, laser range finders, custom software
Custom software by Small Design Firm
Minneapolis Public Library designed by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects

Story Pipeline


In the BPEC community center in Anchorage, Alaska, stories told by Alaskans appear on a plasma video screen and simultaneously emerge as real-time text transcriptions on a 150 long LED display. The text zig-zags indoors down a glass corridor, then veers out through the plate glass, dancing between the trees until it disappears out of sight.

Original design by Ben Rubin/EAR Studio in collaboration with Robin Sylvestri, Cecile Bouchier, Bill Ballou, Alexis Kraft, Bruce Williams, Ron Bateman and the architects of Koonce, Pfeffer, Bettis, Anchroage, Alaska. Installation fabrication and video production by Batwin+Robin productions. LED sign by Sunrise Systems. Audiovisual installation and programming by Scharff Weisberg.



Brasserie Video Beam Installation Created in collaboration with Diller+Scofidio


Customers entering through the revolving door are photographed by a video camera. An ephemeral record of the clientele emerges as the images shift to the right each time a new arrival appears on the leftmost screen. Together with the architecture, the video installation plays on the notion of a “grand entrance.” The Brasserie won the 2000 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design, and was selected for Design Distinction by the 2000 I.D. Magazine Design Review Jury. Together with the architecture, the video installation plays on the notion of a “grand entrance.”

“Diller and Scofidio’s renovation of the beloved restaurant, in the basement of the Seagram’s building, designed by Mies Van der Rohe, was hailed for its restrained use of technology, particularly the installations by sound and video artist Ben Rubin, of EAR Studio.” – I.D. Magazine, July/August 2000