About Rubén Madila
Web Developer / Graphic Designer
I ❤️ art and creativity.
As a full-stack web developer and lifelong artist, I have always been passionate about creating and sharing my work. However, as my career progressed and my income came primarily from coding, I began to rely on social media platforms to showcase my art and other creative pursuits.
But over time, I grew disenchanted with the limitations and manipulation of these platforms. I found myself wanting a more personal and meaningful way to share my work and connect with others.
As most things in life, it is a work in progress. But this is a good start.
The source of everything
I wrote my first website when I was 15 years old. I did it almost by accident, out of sheer curiosity. I found the “View Source” button on the contextual menu that appears when you right-click on any empty part of a website.To my surprise, it made sense immediately. There was a head, a body, and a footer, just like a letter. There were section titles in descending order of importance and hidden information intended for the browser only. It was all there, fully exposed, sometimes even surrounded by useful comments.
That curiosity led me to use Windows ’98 Notepad. My only intention was to test if my browser could read a text file, hastily created by me, saved as index.html. It worked.That was the moment I understood that computer software is nothing less than a set of languages. These languages are all derived from 0s and 1s, layered on top of each other so humans can interface with hardware.Just like my school’s curriculum offered English and French, the internet requires a constantly evolving range of languages.
These languages are searching for a golden standard to power an ever-connected world.It wouldn’t be fully understood as an accessible skill until almost a decade later. Even then, we failed to see how understanding technology is now a matter of survival for everyone in a community. It is not something that can be safely left to the pejoratively-called “nerds” to do.
Specifically, the web needs a diverse community of people who are not only fluent in these languages, discussing the best path forward to evolve them into something that remains accessible for everyone, but also help implement those technologies into problem-solving tools.
The value of nothing
I grew up playing with DIY toys in the corridors of a hospital turned museum of modern art, Madrid’s Reina Sofia. Visiting my mum at work meant spending time walking around exhibits in all shapes and sizes, from abstract paintings to quirky sculptures. I always wondered how they acquired their incredibly high value.
I vividly remember two paintings I saw in my youth. I can’t recall the author’s name, but in my mind, they have now turned into a feeling of extreme confidence, broad strokes, simple passion, and tranquility. However, as much as they tried to convey their meaning to me, at the end, they could only be etched in my mind as two rectangles of almost solid colour, one fully red and the other green, hanging next to each other, without any further context.
I stayed there for minutes, feeling dazed and confused as to how anyone could pay millions for what I perceived as the output of an afternoon’s hobby.
It took me years to understand that sometimes that creates the point. That art, as an experience, is entirely subjective, but dependent on the medium and the journey. The audience is left to inquire about its meaning, to themselves and others, where there could be plenty or there could be none. It’s a desperate attempt to communicate all things willingly and unwillingly, in a way that survives its own creator. A permanent expression of a concept, in its own accord, where everyone will see a different dimension and depth.
And it has taken me 30+ years to truly start considering myself as one, even in the most humble definition of the word.
The narrowing path
All the way back when I was 14, circa 1998, I signed up to my school newspaper, writing video-game, cinema and music reviews, all of them still passions of mine. What started as a side activity would eventually turn from another social bubble into my safe haven. Strangely enough, this modest newspaper, probably due to the perseverance of its editors, would manage to be invited to movie premières with their very own press pass. They (we) were sent trailers to report on, gush over, and nervously write about, coming up with clever questions way in advance in case we were lucking enough to be picked in some Q&As. Getting my very own quote from Maribel Verdú seemed like, or was, touching the stars.
At fifteen, mingling with legendary actors, some at times tripling my age (Paco Rabal, 1926-2001), always felt like staying in a hotel that you know you can’t afford to pay. To watch them show me their honest work while I ran out of film on my camera, without knowing how and why it all came to be, became the accidental education in journalism, art, their industries and purpose. And they always seemed at odds.
To see all those artists pouring their souls into a piece in the hope you understood what they meant, was intimate, personal and meaningful. I wasn’t entirely naive as I fully knew it was their job, but for me it felt confessional, like seeing the world with borrowed eyes, with as much nuance in the container as in what it contained. So I kept on reading, watching, listening and playing as much as I could, in sheer awe of how much the world had to share. I became amaze to the overlap in concepts, patterns and stories, the same feelings being expressed over an over again, with different voices, different textures, changing with the time but in essence, the same themes. Feelings and facts, waiting to be acknowledged, fought over or laughed at, until they were finally reconciled with the world.
The deep dive
Even though I have always felt the need to create art, for most of my life I was told to treat it as a hobby. I was told that unless I could use my creativity to make money, pursuing art would lead to a life of instability and self-doubt. I was told that art was a bad investment and that ironically, money was one of the most important things I needed to be successful. As a result, I went into coding as a way to harness my creativity and achieve a stable income, not knowing any other way to express my emotions.
As much as I loved art, I didn’t think I had a deep enough understanding of it or that I had a real opportunity to be a part of it. Every time I thought about the relationship between art and money, it seemed like it was only used for entertainment or as a high-brow investment scheme. So, I felt stuck with the advice I had been given. I found that my only way to express myself in a way that was financially viable was through talking to machines.
Day after day, I worked on a medium that was shaping the future of all art forms. I watched closely as they adapted, merged, and became one with technology.
In the end, I found that I loved the feeling of communicating with machines, understanding their logic, and watching them evolve as I learned to navigate their possibilities. I discovered a whole new world that spelled the beginning of a global revolution, where society’s voice would be trapped in a 6 inches mirror.
The eternal staircase
As the years went by and I established myself as a developer, I continued to create art in various forms, such as taking pictures, editing video, composing songs, drawing, and writing almost every day. My computers and cameras improved as I did. However, because my income was still generated by coding, I thought it unnecessary to over-engineer a platform to showcase my work. I believed that social media provided the resources and power to share, explore, and communicate with the world.
However, over time, I became disillusioned with the way big tech companies quietly ask for our contributions, forcing everyone to create and process media through their algorithm-driven platforms. But that’s an opinion I will leave for another discussion.
I never thought it necessary to share my journey or make it easy for others to see what I’ve done. As a result, I failed to create a place to display my work. I realised that social media was the reason why I initially felt I didn’t need a website or portfolio. But in 2022, I believe that finding your own voice through a medium that you control and understand is the only way to thrive.
I want my portfolio to be a monument to my efforts as an artist, not a source of content to be digested in 1-minute clips.
The way in which we consume art is as important as the art itself. Creating tools that allow others to tell bigger, better stories is what drove me to code in the first place.
So feel free to browse and share, feel inspired or moved.
I am already grateful you made it this far.
If you have any potential collaborations you’d like to discuss it, please do get in touch.