Tag Archives: Research and reflection

Project 3: Surface and depth



Read the reviews by Campany and Colberg and, if you haven’t already done so, use them to begin the contextual section of your learning log. Try to pick out the key points made by each writer.

Following a disastrous shoot after the 9/11 bombings when Ruff’s photographs came back from the lab blank he trawled the internet to find archive and used jpeg shots of the event.  He went on to rework these images and in doing so he challenges the realism and our expectation of what to expect from the record.    Whilst this challenge of belief and convention exists and will continue to generate debate, Colberg[i] suggests that it is interesting to look at what the work does. Colberg thinks that book form which he thinks works well, but is less impressed with the very large (“gigantic”) prints of the exhibition,  which he suggests are a “tad pretentious” and also suggests that the idea overly relies on technique.  Ruff is breaking free of the perceived confines of photography and in the process produces amazing images which the photography suggests is “more” but more than what Colberg struggles to identify.  He does however, suggest that the beauty of an image is all that we maybe should expect and to ignore the theory behind the concept appreciating the image for what it is.

Campany claims that Ruff “makes very particular demands of us and offers very particular kinds of pleasure, both aesthetic and intellectual.” [ii], so it seems that this concurs with the conclusion that Colberg reached.  However, Campany is much harsher in his description of the images using such strong emotional words such as “cold and dispassionate, willful, searching and perverse”.  He too acknowledges that the images are beautiful and that they have the ability to produce both an individual and collective response which is difficult to resolve.  Campany also suggests that the images because of the subject matter are unpredictable and are even irrational and anarchic producing “tension and drama” and leaving the viewer to  link the images with the “drama” and “character of modern life”.

[i] Colberg J, (2009) Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff. Conscientious online website  http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2009/04/review_jpegs_by_thomas_ruff/

[ii] Campany, David (2008) Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel [online]. David Campany website. Available from:http://davidcampany.com/thomas-ruff-the-aesthetics-of-the-pixel/

[Both Accessed 18 October, 2015]