Ruff’s jpegs

According to David Campany the photographic art of Thomas Ruff makes demands of us and offers pleasure, both aesthetic and intellectual. The viewer find themselves switching between thinking about the image they see before them and contemplating the state of ‘all photography’ in its totality.

All images that appear on the internet and/or printed in books and magazines today are digitized. It is surprising how few of them ever wish to address the fact that they exist as masses of electronic information that take visual form as pixels. Ruff does this by making large scale photographic prints, blowing them up beyond their photorealist resolution.

Pixels are grid-like, machinic and repetitive. They do not have the scattered chaos of grain. When we glimpse pixels we do not think (yet) of authenticity.

Many of Ruff’s photographs are images of unpredictability. Water, fire, smoke, steam, explosions, ruins are all phenomena that cannot be mapped in their detail. We see these subjects throughout Ruff’s grids of pixels. We switch from looking at figuration to abstraction and back again. The result is tension or drama. And it is tempting to see in it something of the character of modern life with its great forces of rationality and irrationality.

According to Joerg Colberg Ruff’s jpegs work well in book form, not as gigantic prints in a gallery. The amount of detail in the images is not large enough to justify the sizes shown.

The beauty of some of the images notwithstanding, the concept itself seems to rely too much on the technique itself. What else is there? Images on the web often have low resolution, and if you blow them up then they show funny patterns, and photography’s role has been changing through its use online – but all that is obvious!


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