Project 3.Surface and Depth

In the work of David Ruff, David Campany sees the pixelated work as ‘cold and dispassionate, wilful, searching and perverse, but at times surprisingly beautiful.’ Campany (2008)

He suggests that the images appeal to viewers on different levels, be they personal, or global, and as individual pictures, or representing an aspect of modern photography itself.

As found images from the internet, these photographs may exist in many archives, including group or personal memory. Many of these images have been seen by millions. This gives something to think about, a context to consider, when viewing them.


Figure1. Ruff cited in Campany (2008)

Rather than the authenticity suggested by the grain of early physical photographs, the pixelation in Ruff’s work demonstrates the limitations of the technology, but also adds a certain order to chaotic visual images or events.

The pixelation of Ruff’s work draws attention to the digital nature of the images, and this is all the more noticeable when they are blown up, as large format prints, and displayed in a gallery.

Joerg Colberg’s view is different. Ignoring the argument about whether Ruff’s work can even be considered photography at all, Colberg looks at how Ruff (2009(?)) describes the ‘terrible beauty’ of poorly resolved images depicting ‘visually aesthetic’ scenes.

Colberg preferred the images in the book, finding the gallery exhibition too pretentious for his liking. Ultimately, while he likes the images themselves, he finds the concept to be stating the obvious.

Well, sure, images on the web often have low resolution, and if you blow them up then they show funny patterns (caused by the image compression algorithms), and of course, photography’s role has been changing through its use online – but all that is just so obvious! I get it! Colberg (2009)

(Word Count: 287)


Campany, D (2008) Thomas Ruff: The Aesthetic of the Pixel. AT

Colberg, J (2009) Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff. AT


Author: Photos Things and Stuff

Study Log for Expressing Your Vision module, for BA (Hons) Photography Degree with OCA

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