Ed Ruscha, That Was Then This Is Now #1, 1989, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 46".

Ed Ruscha, That Was Then This Is Now #1, 1989, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 46".

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha, That Was Then This Is Now #1, 1989, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 46".

IN JULY, an exhibition of my work opened at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria. All four floors of the museum are related to my work with books. Everything from photography to film to paintings and drawings, and of course actual books—all of it is tied to my background in working with language and with graphic design.

In fact, I was Artforum’s layout designer for a few years beginning in 1964, after the magazine moved from San Francisco to LA. I would work a long weekend about once a month, pasting the magazine together with rubber cement and scissors and all that. That was the analog world I lived in. Even today I don’t use digital technology, particularly. I don’t do Twitter or any of that kind of stuff. I’m still stuck in the world of paint, so to speak. My liquid-word paintings [1966–69], for instance, probably had a lot to do with my thinking about the still life, though I know they’ve also been discussed in terms of things like information theory.

So I’m always looking back at history—but part of looking back is being constantly amazed by how things have developed and how we’ve gotten to where we are right now. While I continue to appreciate photography from a film standpoint—meaning analog film—for example, I’m pretty much wowed by all the stuff that is happening with digital cameras. And I do own a digital camera. I use it for point-and-shoot, kind of everyday photographs—not “professionally.” Photography doesn’t really have that much to do with my art these days. I’m mostly painting now. Painting isn’t necessarily tied to any one technology, though. We’ll probably all be painting on high-tech carbon fiber in the not-too-distant future.