Category Archives: surface and depth

Part 1 Surface and depth

Thomas Ruff Aesthetic of the Pixel – David Campany

Book Review of JPEGS – Joerg Colberg

At first glance these images are crude and repulsive to a viewer expecting to see good photographs.

Pixelated images already have a file in our consciousness as ‘bad quality’ or hiding something in the media that is not of public domain like a child’s face innocent to the story, or a number plate of a car, where the information is personal  or censored material.

German Photographer Thomas Ruff trawled the internet for images of the terrorist attack of 9/11 after returning home to Germany to find his negatives were all blank. Many images were of poor quality and Thomas began to find their structure of pixels interesting.

“Use photography to reflect the medium” –Bernd Becher. (Ruff studied under Becher at the Kunstakademie  in Dusseldorf) . Ruff describes his JPEGS work as ‘Compression as representation of the medium’ . As if in direct response to the Becher advice.

In the JPEGS book review for Concientious ,  Joerg Colberg  starts by citing Ruff as possibly ‘One of the most creative and certainly inventive photographers of our time’ . This grand opening  dosen’t follow through as Colberg talks of an “uneasiness” where the work needs more than “just technique”

David Campany  talks of how adapting images helps us make sense of the world around us and archival imagery is important for artists to rework and understand where that image lies in the context of art or photography.

In the D-Day landing pictures of Robert Capa, Campany explains how the grain of the analogue images in itself is a record of the extreme conditions that Capa faced. Like Capas D-Day photographs, Ruff certainly adds to the drama and sometimes horror of his subjects by using the pixels as a medium.

An reworked image from 9/11 by Thomas Ruff.

An reworked image from 9/11 by Thomas Ruff.