The second part of the exhibition is fine art using photography as the media itself, rather than Ruff’s own photographs. Alongside these are large- scale works from his 2004 jpg series of pixelated images depicting nature and disaster. Ruff decided to print large-scale jpg files taken from the Internet (72 d.p.i) such lack of resolution delved into heavy pixelated images like for instance one view from the 9/11 attacks.
jpeg ny01, 2004, C-print, 276 × 188 cm © Thomas Ruff
Similarly, Ruff experiments with the treatment of the pixel (the most basic element of information in digital photography) in The nudes (1999–). The rise of the Internet is markedly with a proliferation of pornography. Treating these often poor resolution images as a contemporary manifestation of the art historical genre of the nude. Ruff selected and made minor adjustments such as applying a slightly blurring so the pixel construction is just visible. Another exhibited work showing Ruff’s pixel experimentation was Substrate (Substrates) (2001–) these are vividly colorful works deriving from Japanese manga and anime, which have been adapted using computer software.
Ruff’s recent press++ (2015–) works make use of retired archival photographs from several decades of American newspapers. Editorial marks, instructions and cropping are reproduced, showing how images from the era of the space race or of Hollywood starlets were retouched. Before digital distribution, agencies used to send photographic prints to newspapers editors either by post or write. Copyright information, captions or printing instructions were written on each image’s reverse, and cropping or masking marks were sometimes even applied on top of the photograph itself. Ruff scans both the front and back of the prints and overlays them, making the editorial inscriptions visible and transforming each image into its own archive.
Thomas Ruff Photographs 1979 – 2017
Date: 27th September 2017 – 21st January 2018
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 18:00 (Thursdays open until 21:00)
Closed on Monday
Place: Whitechapel Gallery
Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High St., London E1 7QX
Tel: +44 (0)20 7522 7888