March 1, 2010

On Thomas Ruff At Aperture


Joerg has an interesting recap of Thomas Ruff speaking with Philip Gefter a couple of weeks ago at Aperture.

I'm a fan of several of Ruff's series of work--and distinctly not a fan of others, but hey. Here's a bit about the Sterne/Stars photos, one of several of Ruff's appropriation series:

Ruff has worked a lot with images that are not his own, be it the stars, the newspaper clippings, or the images of machines he found on a set of glass plates he bought. Each of those series centers on investigating the essence of authorship or reality in photography: The stars he picked as the most objective photographs one could possibly produce (as an astronomer I'm not sure I agree with this)...Here's a photographer who not just decided to play with images to have them fit his artistic vision - instead, it's a photographer who has looked at what photographs can do from a very large number of angles...
I love that Joerg's an astrophysicist/photographer.

Though Ruff uses contemporary plates from an entirely different survey form a different observatory in an entirely different way, his Sterne are definitely an inspiration for my plan to show and reprint the NGS-Palomar Observatory Sky Survey.

Also an antecedent, if not a direct influence: Ruff's Jpegs series, which blows up low-res web-scavenged images to grand, pixelated scale. Even though the discussion was scheduled to promote Gefter's new book and the limited edition of Ruff's Jpegs catalogue [published by Aperture, with an essay by my buddy Bennett Simpson], the jpeg images didn't make it into Joerg's notes.

Neither, alas, did much input from Gefter. He's a very attuned guy, and it was great to work with him on some of my pieces for the Times. So basically, I'm a 360-degree fanboy over this event, and am hoping Aperture will indeed post video of it soon. Or ever.

update: aha, they did. right here. Thanks again, Joerg.

Ein Abend mit Thomas Ruff []
Thomas Ruff: Jpegs

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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