Aesthetica Magazine

#AsSeenInPrint: Message in the Sky

Aesthetica Magazine sent this email to their subscribers on January 3, 2024.


 
Designers are now harnessing the creative potential of
drones to push research and innovation forward. The reach
of this burgeoning technology goes beyond performance and public art. Reuben Wu is applying the same ethos to photography. He is recognised for his contribution to electronic band Ladytron, as well as for crafting mesmeric landscape shots featuring glowing geometric shapes. Halos – created by light-carrying drones and long exposures – encircle high peaks, emerge from canyons and hover over open water. We speak to the artist about his practice, touching upon
the relationship between documentary and fine art.
 
 
 
 
A: Where did your journey behind the camera begin?
When did you first use a drone, and where are you now?
RW: My path into photography was indirect. I only found my
passion for it after I started touring the world with my electronic
band, Ladytron, which formed in Liverpool in 1999. Image-making was an alternative creative outlet that came from exploring new countries. It snowballed, and I went from documenting my surroundings to immersing myself into alternative processes
such as film, Polaroid and infrared photography. 
 
 
 
 
A: Tell us about some of the places you have visited
along the way. Is there anywhere that really stands out?
RW: I’ve photographed in several remote and extreme locations. A place I keep coming back to is Utah. It’s somewhere I used to dream about as a kid growing up in the UK. I was finally able to experience its deserts fully once I moved to the USA 10 years ago. Bolivia is another location that stands out. I first visited in 2019, and it’s where
I made the Field of Infinity series during a week-long road trip. The Salar de Uyuni in the southwest is one of the most sublime – and coldest – places I’ve ever experienced. It’s the world’s largest salt
flat, stretching more than 4,050 square miles, and was formed out
of huge prehistoric lakes that evaporated a very long time ago.
 
 
 
 
 
A: What is the role of post-production and editing? How
do you make these compositions look so perfect and crisp?
RW: The post-production phase is all about creating the final
work. It involves layering and painting multiple exposures on top
of one another to create the vision I had in mind. It’s a very important stage. The shoot is pretty unrestrained and playful, whereas post-production is a more disciplined task where I’m sharply
focused on creating the story I want to tell.
 
 
 
 
A: You’re a collaborator of National Geographic, a leading publication that is best known for its science and environment stories, but you've also been published by Artsy, Colossal and Designboom. Are art and reportage separate genres, or do you think they should converge?
RW: National Geographic is not just a champion of factual
science and journalism, it also stands for photography and using technology to tell visual stories better. As someone who is both a National Geographic photographer and a visual artist, I’m very careful in being transparent about how I make images for the publication and its audience. I know that my work can seem otherworldly, and even digitally rendered, but there is a realness in my images that simply can’t be created in Photoshop or 3D modelling. My aim has always been to show the familiar under an unfamiliar light, and I feel
that is part of National Geographic’s core tenet, too.
 
 
 
    
All images: Reuben Wu, from Field of Infinity (2019). Image courtesy of the artist.
 
 
 

Text-only version of this email

In Conversation with Reuben Wu ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Designers are now harnessing the creative potential of drones to push research and innovation forward. The reach of this burgeoning technology goes beyond performance and public art. Reuben Wu is applying the same ethos to photography. He is recognised for his contribution to electronic band Ladytron, as well as for crafting mesmeric landscape shots featuring glowing geometric shapes. Halos – created by light-carrying drones and long exposures – encircle high peaks, emerge from canyons and hover over open water. We speak to the artist about his practice, touching upon the relationship between documentary and fine art. A: Where did your journey behind the camera begin? When did you first use a drone, and where are you now? RW: My path into photography was indirect. I only found my passion for it after I started touring the world with my electronic band, Ladytron, which formed in Liverpool in 1999. Image-making was an alternative creative outlet that came from exploring new countries. It snowballed, and I went from documenting my surroundings to immersing myself into alternative processes such as film, Polaroid and infrared photography.  A: Tell us about some of the places you have visited along the way. Is there anywhere that really stands out? RW: I’ve photographed in several remote and extreme locations. A place I keep coming back to is Utah. It’s somewhere I used to dream about as a kid growing up in the UK. I was finally able to experience its deserts fully once I moved to the USA 10 years ago. Bolivia is another location that stands out. I first visited in 2019, and it’s where I made the Field of Infinity series during a week-long road trip. The Salar de Uyuni in the southwest is one of the most sublime – and coldest – places I’ve ever experienced. It’s the world’s largest salt flat, stretching more than 4,050 square miles, and was formed out of huge prehistoric lakes that evaporated a very long time ago. A: What is the role of post-production and editing? How do you make these compositions look so perfect and crisp? RW: The post-production phase is all about creating the final work. It involves layering and painting multiple exposures on top of one another to create the vision I had in mind. It’s a very important stage. The shoot is pretty unrestrained and playful, whereas post-production is a more disciplined task where I’m sharply focused on creating the story I want to tell. A: You’re a collaborator of National Geographic, a leading publication that is best known for its science and environment stories, but you've also been published by Artsy, Colossal and Designboom. Are art and reportage separate genres, or do you think they should converge? RW: National Geographic is not just a champion of factual science and journalism, it also stands for photography and using technology to tell visual stories better. As someone who is both a National Geographic photographer and a visual artist, I’m very careful in being transparent about how I make images for the publication and its audience. I know that my work can seem otherworldly, and even digitally rendered, but there is a realness in my images that simply can’t be created in Photoshop or 3D modelling. My aim has always been to show the familiar under an unfamiliar light, and I feel that is part of National Geographic’s core tenet, too. reubenwu.com  All images: Reuben Wu, from Field of Infinity (2019). Image courtesy of the artist. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Change email address / Leave mailing list
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