Infinite Sustain – photography

Reuben Wu is something of a 21st century Renaissance man. Perhaps best known as one-quarter of electronic band Ladytron, he started out in industrial design, before moving into film, soundtracks, and creating some rather lovely photography.

Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu

Wu studied industrial design at Sheffield Hallam University and went on to work as an industrial designer for Cambridge-based Team Consulting, though he says that side of things was ‘a chapter that I finished a decade ago.’

He left design for music, forming Brian Eno-approved synthpop wonders Ladytron in 1999.  Now, his focus is making films and their soundtracks; and he’s passionate about photography  – most recently creating the series Infinite Sustain.

Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu

‘The title comes from music, describing a sound which once generated, has no abatement and continues without waning, until you tell it to stop’, Wu tells Design Week.

‘I think the inspirations for music and photography are the same things. I don’t tap into a different part of myself when I do one or the other. I think my inspirations are mostly visual though.’

Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu

His eerie photographs have a Surrealist bent, often creating a painterly feel through their unusual colourings and hazy, otherworldly aesthetic.

Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu

It’s little surprise then that Wu credits romantic landscape painters such as Caspar David Friedrich and Frederik Edwin Church as influences.

‘They stood out from their contemporaries because there was always a hint of an internal viewpoint rather than a simple portrayal of a scene’, he explains.

‘Also, the works of Jean Giraud (Moebius) and Chris Foss I have huge respect for.’

Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu

The images are all created through a ‘trial and error’ process, he tells us, and are the product of a series of experiments with things like toy cameras, pinhole modified Polaroids, infrared film and long exposures.

Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu

However, for Wu, it seems the images are about their stories, rather than their process or medium.‘I always try to find a narrative in the work’, he says.

‘It can be difficult in landscape photography as it’s easy to resort to showing ‘greatest hits’, but I think it’s similar to writing an album of music.

‘There is a start, middle and an end. A few singles here, fan favourites there, and then some really good album tracks.’

The images are on show in San Francisco until  25 June at Lot 21 Gallery, 933 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. For more information on Reuben Wu’s work visit http://reubenwu.com/, and for the exhibition’s Facebook event click here

Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu

Latest articles

Remembering Jon Daniel: 1966-2017

We look back on the life and work of the Design Week columnist, independent creative director and social activist “who helped put black participation on the political map”.