Reuben Son

photo of Reuben on his couch
Photo by Laurel Schwulst

I’m a software engineer and artist based in New York City, with a multi-disciplinary background in research science and humanities.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a filmmaker, or a furniture designer, or a concert guitarist. While my fantasies and gestures towards future selves have shifted over the years, I still feel drawn to certain kinds of objects and aesthetic experiences. Over the last decade, my energies have settled, through desire paths and streams, into software, sound, and ceramics.

Irrespective of the medium, I’m interested in the interplay of phenomonologically irreducible elments of surface and structure, of object and affect, of screen and software. I think of my methodology as broadly sculptural, in which form and content are not determined a priori, and the final work emerges in negotation with the materiality of the medium.

1. From The Spirit of the Object as the Hand of Fate in The Shadow of the Object. You can see this passage, and others like it that I've underlined in my readings over recent years over on Are.na.

The British psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas writes that “the aesthetic moment is a caesura in time when the subject feels held in symmetry and solitude by the spirit of the object” [1]. In our daily lives, these moments of transformative caesura come unbeckoned, or not at all, and a life well-lived might be one in which the possibility of such moments feel close at hand.

Professional Practice

Screenshot of The Strategist
Screenshot of The Strategist homepage on May 18, 2024

I’ve worked as an engineering lead at New York Magazine and Vox Media, developing editorial tooling and delivering award-winning reader experiences. Working closely with design, editorial, and business development teams, I played a leading role in developing The Strategist during a period of rapid growth in its editorial scope and affiliate revenue business.

As a product-driven technologist, I’m broadly interested in the synthesis of technical affordances with human needs and desires. I approach software design and org charts as technologies for managing complexity, and believe that “perfect systems” exists only in their allure … when you’re holding a hammer, everything becomes a nail.

View engineering resume

Creative Practice

mug in shape of a dwelling
Hand-carved mug from my casa series.

Work with sound forms the basis of my creative practice, which has evolved through materiality and metaphor. In recent work, like Airports for Music and Frog Chorus, frogs and microphones act as metaphors on the act of listening itself, in both the compositional process and in prompting audiences to attend to their own act of listening. In addition to my solo practice, my sound-based work also includes assisting artists like Eli Keszler, James Hoff, and Glenn Jones on installations, performances, and recordings, for institutions and labels like the Whitney Museum of American Art, PAN, and Thrill Jockey.

This emphasis on embodied experience and materiality also forms the root of my ceramics practice, and I’m currently developing a new body of work that combines sound with ceramics.

2. “… we think of language as daemonic. We think of ourselves as doing things with words, while language does things to us,” Adam Phillips, On Wanting to Change

In my web-based practice, I’m interested in ways in which interfaces construct users, and I’ve developed a number of personal projects that experiment with user interfaces as strategies for using technology in more expansive ways: the phone as a frog, AI as an interface to an archive, and weaving music. Just as poetry may undo the instrumentalization of language [2], poetic interfaces may allow us to move beyond software that is merely instrumental and instrumentalizing.

View artist resume

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The projects below represent an incomplete index of my creative work between the period of 2009 to the present. I’m still figuring things out, but I’m happy you’re here and I hope you enjoy browsing some of the things I’ve made along the way. While none of these projects are truly finished, I do feel like this body of work has connecting throughlines, and has given me the space to think and to feel … and if not to find answers, to at least ask better questions.

For more about this website, see Colophon.

Selected Projects