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What artists do: A conversation with Jeff Whetstone

One Friday afternoon in late October, Jeff Whetstone, a professor in the visual arts department at Princeton University, was stationed in the Digital Learning Lab on the first floor of Lewis Library, sitting in a swivel chair with his black leather boots kicked off for comfort. From behind a brushed-silver computer monitor — in a large room that was empty save for twenty more of the machines — his round, wire-rimmed glasses shone with identical rectangular reflections in each lens, flashing from bright white to muted black as he navigated back and forth between image thumbnails.

“You know what a RED camera is?” he asked, before explaining: “It’s a cinema camera that takes these enormous, huge video files that are kind of un-editable.” He spoke the last word in syllabic bits, anticipating that he might mispronounce it otherwise. “So, I’m crunching them down to size for a video I’m doing,” a process, he explained, that was better done on campus than from his home in Princeton or his shared studio in Long Island City. “This is a magic thing — I don’t have one of these,” he said, cupping the cylindrical hard drive in both hands as it sat whirring away with its 64 gigabytes of RAM...

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