Part 1, Project 3 – Surface and Depth

Project 3 – Surface and Depth

Research Point

Thomas Ruff’s ‘JPEGs’ series is a collection of found images that Ruff has described as “low resolution” (Conversation with Max Dax, cited Colberg, ‘Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff’) produced at a level which is “beyond their photorealist resolution” (Campany, ‘Thomas Ruff, The Aesthetics of the Pixel’) bringing the aesthetic of the pixel to the series.

It could be argued that the pixel isn’t something we want to see in contemporary photography yet throughout the history of photography the limitations of equipment have been accepted within the art form. It has been argued that some equipment limitations have added to the photography as Campany argues in his review of Ruff’s ‘JPEGs’ when he cites the famous photographical series by Robert Capa of the D-Day Landings at Omaha Beach.

Colberg argues that Ruff’s ‘JPEGs’ series relies “too much on the technique” (Colberg, ‘Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff’) as the message of the exhibition and of the book rather than there being a message to convey.

Here is an exhibition and book which allow us to look at the limits of the pixel of digital photography. What can we appreciate from the limits of the pixel, especially the pixel derived from user generated content? Will the limits of pixels pushed past their photorealist limits be viewed similarly to Capa’s Omaha photographs? Or does the place in time to which these images belong mean that they are likely to be dismissed by history as a conceit of the early life of the Digital Age?

If I gain something from looking at Ruff’s work online and from reading these reviews it is an awareness that whatever the verdict in time of his series, the aim is always to deliver a message, not a message about the delivery.


Campany, D, 2008, ‘Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel’, [URL: – accessed 23/03/2016]

Colberg, J, 2009, ‘Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff’, [URL: – accessed 23/03/2016]

(Word Count – 292)