Konrad Fischer

Thomas Ruff

06 Sep - 02 Nov 2013

© Thomas Ruff
r.phg.05_I, 2012
240 x 185 cm, Edition of 4
New Works
6 September - 2 November 2013

In art historian or photo connaisseur’s circles, the technique of the photogram is usually associated with illustrious names such as El Lissitzky, László Moholy-Nagy or Man Ray who – within the context of Russian Contructivism, Bauhaus and New Bauhaus – created luminographs or so-called Rayographs by placing objects directly onto photosensitive material and using direct exposure without employing any camera technique. Now Thomas Ruff is refining this technique – known since the days of Fox Talbot and Bayard as photogenic drawings or cyanotypes – by converting it from analogue into digital. The darkroom has been created inside the computer, rendered objects are placed in virtual 3D space, exposure can be done from different perspectives. The motifs of his abstract computer photographs (spirals, crystals, templates, lenses) are only remotely associated with the classic photograms. In this way, Thomas Ruff created a conceptual re-definition within a genre in which almost everything has been already invented or exhibited.

In his series ma.r.s. (Mars Reconnaissance Survey – a NASA mission which started in 2005 and includes a High Resolution Imaging Project) Thomas Ruff manipulates the original black-and-white satellite-images by adding color and by altering the perspective. Since the pictures are taken by machines NASA is placing them into public domain, free of copyright. While some of the intriguing images can be easily decoded as being stellar photography some of the more abstract images cannot be identified without any background knowledge. And when looking at the stereoscopic versions of Thomas Ruff’s ma.r.s. images through 3D goggles our neighbor planet – actually millions of kilometers away – comes into reach.

Tags: El Lissitzky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, Thomas Ruff