Charlie Rubin

An air of fantasy and isolation surrounds the work of this New York-based photographer, whose new book Strange Paradise examines how people perceive the difference between fact and fiction, while surveying the US’s disparate landscapes.

Tell us about a recent project that you’ve been particularly pleased with?

My last book project, Strange Paradise, has been my main focus for a couple of years now. I'm really happy with how it turned out, but also pumped to start something brand new.

Tell me a bit more about the concept?

Strange Paradise is an adventure across America, full of fantasy, an escape from our daily virtual grind and respite from the anxious change of culture surrounding us. It’s an exploration of the real. The images were captured in Texas, Vermont and New York so there’s an interesting play between disparate regions of the country that all relate thematically. The book was designed with the help of Christina Labey at Conveyor Editions. The layout is grouped into three different main sections. We also got Elana Schlenker to design the cover and the inserted materials, each book has a poem, postcard and sticker included in a paper insert.

You turned the book into an installation for Printed Matter in NYC. What did that involve?

I made a photo-curtain to hang in their storefront window and I wheat-pasted photographs outside the store. I also drew on the window of the store. It was supposed to allude to the layered images in the book.  

How do you choose topics to explore in your work?

I get inspired by things I see on the street, in the city, or something I read in the news. I try to make something that I haven't seen before, or that's different from trends I notice forming in the photo-art world. In effect, it becomes a visualisation of a changing culture.

What do you think makes a successful photograph?

I love when a photograph blurs the line between reality and fantasy, and I can't tell how the picture was made, as if the photograph transcends the real-life moment it was taken in. 

You’re an avid Instagram user – how does it inform your work?

I think it's an easy way to share what I'm looking at as inspiration (other artists or daily occurrences) and a peek in to my process in the studio or new stuff I'm working on. It's also good for sharing events or shows that I'm involved with.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2014?

I'm working on a new project involving photo blankets which I'm really excited about. They’re photos made in to blankets by a big machine that weaves different colours together into a tapestry-like textile. I can't believe this actually exists and that the technology is possible. I think they are usually used as gifts for grandparents but I exploited the medium for my own work. I'm also pushing concepts I've worked on in the past in different ways involving still life setups outside.