“Ruff has done a great deal to introduce into photographic art what we might call an ‘art of the pixel’, allowing us to contemplate at an aesthetic and philosophical level the basic condition of the electronic image” David Company.
Read the reviews by Campany and Colberg of Thomas Ruff’s JPEG work and begin the contextual section of your learning log. Try to pick out the key points made by each writer.
An analysis of the reviews on Ruff’s JPEGS by David Campany and Joerg Colberg
David Campany gives a clear explanation of Ruff’s JPEGs work and how he arrived at it. He underlines that all images are digitalised and explains that few address this as Ruff does; That they exist as masses of electronic information in the visual form of pixels (he describes pixels as “grid-like, machinic and repetitive as opposed to grainy and impressionistic like some 1930s-50s images). Company suggests that through Ruff’s large scale photographic prints, blown up beyond their photorealistic resolution, he has introduced us to photographic art called an “art of the pixel” which allows us to “contemplate at an aesthetic and philosophical level the basic condition of the electronic image”. He takes a positive approach to the impact of Thomas Ruff’s JPEGs work, likening it to “looking at figuration to abstraction and back again” resulting in great tension or drama.
Joerg Colberg seems less convinced of the impact of Ruffs JPEGs work. He outlines Ruff’s journey in producing them, which was that his 9/11 negatives returned from the laboratory blank and that he modified the poor resolution images then expanded them. Colberg admits his unease with the work, and that although the resulting images are beautiful there is a reliance on the technique and concept of the JPEGs and too much convincing that there is more to them than beauty “what more really I never managed to find out”. He concludes that he is probably being overly critical and does give Ruff credit for pushing the boundaries of photography, however finishes with the thought that sometimes “the medium is the message” (and I’m expecting too much)”.
I have only been able to view Ruff’s images on screen and would like to see them in print before arriving at my own conclusions. This is one of my images with a Thomas Ruff effect: