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Timothy O'Sullivan Michael Ormerod Pak Sheung Chuen Gordon Parks Parr Prager Richard Prince Marc Rees Albert Renger-Patzsch Richter Roberts Mariah Robertson Willy Ronis Rossignol JPEG kj01, Ruff John Runk Ed Ruscha
O'Sullivan, Ormerod, Pak, Parks, Parr, Penn, Pippin, Prager, Rauschenberg, [Rees], Riboud, Richter, Roberts, Robertson, Roessler, Ronis, Rossignol, Ruff, Runk, Ruscha

Timothy O'Sullivan

O'Sullivan circa 1871-74

b: c. 1840 / d: 1882

O'Sullivan is described in Wikipedia as,

widely known for his work related to the American Civil War and the Western United States. - Wikipedia

Another Civil War photographer on these pages is Matthew Brady.

Timothy O'Sullivan Timothy O'Sullivan Timothy O'Sullivan Timothy O'Sullivan
1. The Harvest of Death: Union dead on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 5–6, 1863
2. Elk Mountain (Maryland) signal tower, 1862
3. Inscription Rock, El Morro National Monument, 1873
4. Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, 1874

sources - Wikipedia, Daily Mail


added - 31Dec18

Michael Ormerod

b: Cheshire 1947 / d: 1991 Arizona

Ormerod was brought to my attention by Geoff Dyer in The Ongoing Moment, where he draws parallels between Ormerod's Picket Fence and Paul Strand's White Fence …, 1916.

Ormerod deserves far more attention than he currently receives.

Michael Ormerod was born in Cheshire in 1947. He lived in Newcastle, but spent many years travelling America. Fascinated by the American image, and following in the footsteps of Robert Frank, Ormerod took to the American West to find a washed out dream of capitalism. His images capture a strange juxtaposition of an American beauty tainted by a hidden sense of menace and corruption.
The photographs are understated, but show an unseen America, where the industrial heartland is decaying, highways stand empty and towns are deserted. The subjects of Ormerod’s work are the disenfranchised. A teenager cycles through her neighbourhood wearing a Halloween-style hockey mask, a Native American man stands in a graveyard, their expressions are unreadable.
Michael Ormerod Michael Ormerod Michael Ormerod Michael Ormerod Michael Ormerod
1. Girl Blowing Bubble Gum
2. Child in Mask on Bike
3. Steppin in High Fashions
4. Wet Street
5. Picket Fence
© the estate of Michael Ormerod

sources Wikipedia

links - Telegraph

Pak Sheung Chuen

Pak Sheung Chuen
Pak Sheung Chuen

b: 1977 Fujian

Pak has/had an exhibition at Tate Modern running until December 2018. Called, A Travel without Visual Experience, the Tate web site decribes it as follows,

The only way to see this installation is by using flash photography. This experience echoes how the work was created and encourages us to think about the relationship between vision and memory.
In 2008, Pak Sheung Chuen travelled to Malaysia on a sightseeing holiday. He closed his eyes and wore dark glasses throughout his five-day trip. Unable to see his surroundings, Pak relied on his mother and fellow tour companions to guide him. He documented his time in Malaysia using a simple point-and-shoot camera, taking hundreds of photographs on 19 rolls of film. Pak commented, ‘During the trip, I was still doing all the sightseeing and took many photos, but instead of seeing, I only used my body to sense and experience my surroundings.’ These images become part of Pak’s memory of his holiday. He committed never to visit Malaysia again so the photographs would form his only visual experience of the country. This display shows a selection of the photographs Pak took in Malaysia on the walls of an unlit gallery space together with sound recordings made during his trip. Pak refers to the installation as an ‘unseen room’. You are invited to turn on the flash setting of your camera, step into the dark space and use your camera to explore and photograph the room. As camera flashes go off, you will catch brief glimpses of the surrounding walls but you will need to use your other senses to get your bearings. This means of encountering Pak’s work echoes how he made A Travel without Visual Experience. By looking at photographs taken in the installation once they have left the gallery, visitors experience Pak’s work as he experienced Malaysia. Tate
Pak Sheung Chuen
1. A Travel without Visual Experience 2008
© Pak Sheung Chuen

sources Wikipedia

links - Eli Klein gallery, Tate

Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks

b1912, Fort Scott, Kansas / d: 2006, New York

Parks is described in Wikipedia as,

an American photographer, musician, writer and film director, who became prominent in U.S. documentary photojournalism in the 1940s through 1970s—particularly in issues of civil rights, poverty and African-Americans—and in glamour photography.
As the first famous pioneer among black filmmakers, he was the first African American to produce and direct major motion pictures—developing films relating the experience of slaves and struggling black Americans, and creating the "blaxploitation" genre. He is best remembered for his iconic photos of poor Americans during the 1940s (taken for a federal government project), for his photographic essays for Life magazine, and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft. Parks also was an author, poet and composer. wikipedia

There is an remarkably good piece, Darkness, Invisible, a collaboration between Parks and Ralph Ellison, available online here.

Gordon Parks Gordon Parks Gordon Parks Gordon Parks
1. American Gothic, 1942
2. The Invisible Man, Harlem, New York, 1952
3. Bettina & Frances McLaughlin-Gill, 1950
4. Drinking Fountains, Birmingham, Alabama, 1956
© the estate of Gordon Parks

sources - Wikipedia

links - The Gordon Parks Foundation

added - 01Jan19

Martin Parr

Martin Parr
self portrait, 1997

b: 1952 Epsom, Surrey

One of Peter Stepan's 50 Photographers You Should Know.

In an unusually succinct biography, Wikipedia states,

a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. He is known for his photographic projects that take an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England, and more broadly the wealth of the Western world.
His major projects have been rural communities (1975–82), The Last Resort (1983–85), The Cost of Living (1987–89), Small World (1987–94) and Common Sense (1995–99).
Since 1994, Parr has been a member of Magnum Photos. He has had around 40 solo photobooks published, and has featured in around 80 exhibitions worldwide – including the international touring exhibition ParrWorld, and a retrospective at the Barbican Arts Centre, London, in 2002.
The Martin Parr Foundation, founded in 2014, opened premises in his hometown of Bristol in 2017. It houses his own archive, his collection of British and Irish photography by other photographers, and a gallery. wikipedia

It is possible that you have to be British to fully appreciate these pieces, but this is truly great work, capturing the heart and soul of his subject. Egglestone without the artifice. Opportunism at its best.

Parr Parr Parr
1. New Brighton from The Last Resort, 1983-85
2. from Beach Therapy
3. from Think of England
© Martin Parr

sources - Wikipedia, Stepan (2008)

links - artist's web site

added - 22Dec18

Irving Penn

Irving Penn
Irving Penn, self portrait

b: 1917 New Jersey / d: 2009 New York

Penn is cited in Part 4 of the course material in the context of artificial lighting, noting, by contrast, his use of natural light for portraits.

Penn is best known for his portraits, still lifes and fashion photography. For his portraits, he introduced plain white or grey backgrounds, taking it to the extreme of constructing a corner set (see Dali, below) and, as noted above, using natural lighting.

Irving Penn
Dali, 1947
Poppy, 1968
Robin Williams, 1998
Untitled (Steak) for “Fancy That,” Vogue, August 1994
Balenciaga Yeti Coat (A), By Ghesquiere, New York, 2005
© the estate of Irving Penn

sources - Wikipedia

links - The Irving Penn Foundation

added - 31Jan19

Steven Pippin

Steven Pippin
Self-Portrait with Photo Booth, 1987

b: 1960 Redhill, Surrey

Pippin features in Higgins' Why it does not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, pp. 126-7).

Pippin is another DIY photographer (see also Francesco Capponi, Richard Learoyd and Esteban Pastorino Diaz, amongst others). Pippin is quoted in Higgins (2013, p. 126),

The technology and sophistication of the present-day camera seem to grow proportionately to the increasingly boring subject matter it records. Pippin, quoted in Why it doe not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, p. 126)

In his Turner Prize (1999) nominated Laundromat-Locomotion series, Pippin channelled Muybridge, adapting twelve washing machines as cameras and photographed people and a horse passing. He has made other incongruous cameras.

To this writer, at least, this seems a notably pointless task and the results poor, though Higgins (ibid.) comments

[Pippins'] explorations, indeed quasi-performances, are informed by the history of photography, and their end results eloquently comment on the nature of taking and making photographs. Why it doe not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, p. 127)
Steven Pippin
1. Laundromat-Locomotion (Walking in Suit), 1997
© Steven Pippin

[27Jun20] but having my mind broadened by the course helps and they are growing on me. There is a quality inherent in the pursuit of the unusual, the difficult and the particular.

sources - Wikipedia

links - artist's web site, Tate

added - 15Apr19

Richard Prince

Richard Prince

b: 1949 Panama Canal Zone, U.S.

Prince features in Higgins' Why it does not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, pp. 58-9).

Prince developed an interest in advertising imagery and began rephotographing ads to create a form of art. Higgins (2013, p.58) quotes him as saying,

I had limited technical skills regarding the camera. Actually I had no skills. Prince quoted in Why it doe not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, p. 58)

Perhaps his best-known work is based on a Philip Morris cigarette campaign, using images of cowboys and the American West to personify Marlboro Man.

Fig. 1 sold for $1,248,000 in 2005.

Richard Prince
1. Untitled (Cowboy)
© Richard Prince

sources - Wikipedia

links - artist's web site

added - 15Apr19

Alex Prager

Logo v.2

born - died

This is the text of a blog entry. More details in due course.

This was my first visit to [the Photographers' Gallery] since starting the course. There are two very interesting and nicely contrasted shows on the the moment, Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive and Tish Murtha: Works 1976-1991. Prager produces seriously large photographs of elaborately and meticulously cast and staged tableaux with a hint of Hitchcock. It is not a genre I could ever be involved in but I admire the craft and glory in the output from afar. I took some iPhone snaps of the display. citation
Prager Prager Prager Prager Prager Prager
Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive exhibition © Alex Prager



Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg
Robert Rauschenberg
self portrait, collage

b: 1925 Port Arthur, Texas / d: 2008 Captiva, Florida

Rauschenberg features in Higgins' Why it does not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, pp. 188-9).

Best known as a painter and sculptor, Rauschenberg was one of the artists loaned the 20x24 Polaroid camera to play with (the others included Chuck Close and Lucas Samaras). Fig. 1 shows a work from the Bleacher series, where the artist brushed bleach on the photographs to interfere with the development process.

The Sotheby's online sale page describes this work as,

a composition of 4 unique bleached Polaroid Polapan prints, mounted to aluminium, signed and dated in silver ink on the mount, in a frame designed to the artist's specifications, an Innovation/Imagination exhibition label on the reverse, 1988
51¾ by 42¼ in. (131.4 by 107.3 cm.) Sotheby's online sale page [accessed 16Apr19]
Robert Rauschenberg
1. Japanese Sky I from the Bleacher series
© the estate of Robert Rauschenberg

sources - Wikipedia

links - Sotheby's

added - 16Apr19

Man Ray

Man Ray
Man Ray self portrait, 1932

b: 1890 Philadelphia / d: 1976 Paris

From Wikipedia,

Man Ray was an American visual artist who spent most of his career in Paris. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known for his photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Man Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called "rayographs" in reference to himself. wikipedia

Berenice Abbott worked in his Paris studio.

Ray appears in the Pompidou Centre's 100 Masterpieces of Photography: in fact more of his works are featured in the book than any other artist. Particularly striking is his Portrait of Luisa Casati (fig. 4).The circumstances of its creation are described — the Italian aristocrat commessioned Ray to create a portrait of her in her home surrounded by the objects she treasured. The electric system in her house failed and Ray had to take the portraits by available light, explaining to Luisa that she would have to remain still for the exposures. She failed to do so and, when Ray processed the results, regarded them as complete failures, but the Marchesa loved them and stated that Ray had captured her soul.

Man Ray Man Ray Man Ray
1. Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924
2. Noire et Blanche, 1926
3. Anatomies, 1929
4. Portrait of Luisa Casati, 1922
© the estate of Man Ray

sources - Wikipedia

links -

Marc Rees

Marc Rees
Marc Rees
portrait by Warren Orchard


Marc Rees is mentioned in the course material (EyV p. 15) in the context of examples for the Square Mile assignment.

Rees was born in Wales, studied expressive arts in Brighton and founded R.I.P.E. (Rees International Projects Enterprise), under the banner of which he has worked on a number of international multi-media projects. The biography posted on R.I.P.E. states,

Marc Rees is one of Wales’s leading exponents of contemporary performance and installation. His innovative interdisciplinary artworks are known for their flamboyant, humorous and often extreme interpretations of history, culture and personal experience. In addition to working with some of Britain’s foremost physical theatre companies (Brith Gof, Earthfall and DV8) and Germany’s premiere choreographers (Angela Guerreiro, Thomas Lehmen and Tanz Compagnie Rubato) his own extensive body of work includes the solo stage works Iddo Ef/Caligula Disco/Gloria Days, the installation/performances The House Project /RevolUn/Shed*light and the BBC film A Very Gladys night.
He has lived and worked in Amsterdam, Montreal and Berlin and has initiated under his company R.I.P.E (Rees International Projects Enterprise) several highly successful artistic alliances with furniture designers, film makers, authors, composers and choreographers across Europe and North America. R.I.P.E.

He refers to the Square Mile in his The description of his work Shed*light (see R.I.P.E.)

It is difficult to determine which images are by Rees and which by his collaborators. Please follow the links and decide for yourself.


links - The Stage, R.I.P.E., Blog

Albert Renger-Patzsch

Albert Renger-Patzsch
Albert Renger-Patzsch, self portrait, 1929

b: 1897 Würzburg, Bavaria / d: 1966

From Wikipedia,

a German photographer associated with the New Objectivity.
Renger-Patzsch was born in Würzburg and began making photographs by age twelve. After military service in the First World War he studied chemistry at Dresden Technical College. In the early 1920s he worked as a press photographer for the Chicago Tribune before becoming a freelancer and, in 1925, publishing a book, The choir stalls of Cappenberg. He had his first museum exhibition in 1927.
A second book followed in 1928, Die Welt ist schön (The World is Beautiful). This, his best-known book, is a collection of one hundred of his photographs in which natural forms, industrial subjects and mass-produced objects are presented with the clarity of scientific illustrations. The book's title was chosen by his publisher; Renger-Patzsch's preferred title for the collection was Die Dinge ("Things").
In its sharply focused and matter-of-fact style his work exemplifies the esthetic of The New Objectivity that flourished in the arts in Germany during the Weimar Republic. Like Edward Weston in the United States, Renger-Patzsch believed that the value of photography was in its ability to reproduce the texture of reality, and to represent the essence of an object. He wrote: "The secret of a good photograph—which, like a work of art, can have esthetic qualities—is its realism ... Let us therefore leave art to artists and endeavor to create, with the means peculiar to photography and without borrowing from art, photographs which will last because of their photographic qualities."
Among his works of the 1920s are Echeoeria (1922) and Viper's Head (ca. 1925). During the 1930s Renger-Patzsch made photographs for industry and advertising. His archives were destroyed during the Second World War. In 1944 he moved to Wamel, Möhnesee, where he lived the rest of his life. wikipedia
Albert Renger-Patzsch Albert Renger-Patzsch Albert Renger-Patzsch
1. Ein Knotenpunkt der Fachwerkbrücke Duisburg-Hochfeld, 1928.
2. Flatirons for Shoe Manufacture, 1928
3. Hörder Verein - Coal Mixing Plant (Dortmund), before 1929
© the estate of Albert Renger-Patzsch

sources - Wikipedia


Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter

b: 1932 Dresden

Richter features in Higgins' Why it does not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, pp. 64-65).

Richter is best known for has paintings in several genres (including abstract and photorealistic). He has also, over many years, been adding to his Overpainted Photographs series, where he takes a photograph and smears it with whatever paint is to hand, often his palette residue. The uses mostly his own photographs, printed in commercial labs in snapshot size. Some are discarded: many are kept. He is quoted in Higgins (2013, p.65),

All I am trying to do with a picture is to bring the most different and the most contradictory things together with the greatest possible freedom, alive, and capable of living on. Richter, quoted in Higgins (2013, p.65)
Richter Richter Richter
Figs. 1-3 from the Overpainted Photographs series
© Gerhard Richter

This might, at first, seem a rather pointless exercise, but these little pieces have become a calling card. The photographs used often have "snapshot errors" (heads cut off etc.) and it is as though Richter, one of the most commercially successful painters of his generation, is blessing his mediocre photographs by anointing them with some paint from his superior artworks.
It is an amusing indulgence.

sources - Wikipedia

links - artist's web site

added - 19Apr19

Simon Roberts

Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts
© The Guardian

b: 1974 London

Roberts' method of working has often been with 5x4 field camera from the roof of a camper van, photographing everyday life. Three of his most famous series have been We English (2009), Marrie Albion (2017) and The Election Project (2010), that last when he was appointed the official Election Artist for the 2010 General Election. Fig. 2 below shows Gordon Brown shortly before his confrontation with Gillian Duffy who he later described as "that biggoted woman": the remark was recorded and broadcast and his reputation (such as it was) has never recovered.

In this interview he shares many pieces of advice on developing a career in photography, including, "Watch a film by Andrei Tarkovsky" and "Under no circumstance give away your copyright. It’s important to control your archive and the terms of usage of your imagery".

Roberts Roberts Roberts Roberts
1. Blackpool Promenade, 2008, from We English
2. Gordon Brown in Rochdale, 2010, from The Election Project
3. Stonehenge, 2013, from Merrie Albion
4. Simon Roberts at work in Rochdale, 2010
1-3 © Simon Roberts

sources - Wikipedia

links - artist's web site

Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson

b: 1975

Robertson features in Higgins' Why it does not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, pp. 106-7).

Higgins (2013, p.107) describes Robertson's workflow for her early work — using friends as models, a medium or large format camera, lighting a single 500 watt bulb, the negative printed onto litho film, contact printed onto litho again and that solarised in development. With regard to the Collage series, according to Higgins (ibid.), Robertson shot them at her parents' home and named them "collages" so that she could pretend to them, if asked, she had not done so.

Robertson's current work is with colour photograms. In an interview with Artnet, she described how they are made,

The photograms are made with all the basic components in a darkroom: the enlarger, the table, the timer, some paper, me, and some cardboard. It is the system built for image printing from negatives, for fine control of light. I’m just using the essentialized elements of the light control machine and the human body, a duo made for each other. Moving the cardboard mask, measuring in units of ‘my fingertips,’ then up on the toes to hit the color film base layer dial, I cup my hand around the lens to shape the shaft of light, then down to hit the pedal for an exposure, then up on the toes and crank the Yellow and the Magenta and all over again. I know the number combos that make colors… 30 Y, 130 M, 2 sec, f2.8 makes this lime green, and then my favorites are the grays which happen around 70Y 70M.Mariah Robertson, interviewed for Artnet and quoted on the artist's web site.
Mariah RobertsonMariah Robertson
1. Collage 3, 2007
2. 226, from The Hydra, 2017
3. The Hydra, 2017, installation shot at the M+B Gallery, Los Angeles
© Mariah Robertson

My personal preference is for her earlier pieces as I find them more inventive and more approachable, not to mention the endearing story about her parents.

sources - Wikipedia

links - artist's web site

added - 22Apr19

Anjella Roessler

self portrait with camera
self portrait with camera

b: Australia

Roessler's work appears in the first issue of Intrepid, published by The Intrepid Camera Co. showcasing projects and images photographed with their lightweight 4x5 and 8x10 cameras. Roessler's project, Land of Blood, shows "the sites where murders of Aboriginal people by white Colonial settlers occurred". She uses a pinhole lens and paper negatives to produce moving evocations of images which might be contemporaneous with the events.

Roessler shows a number of other innovative projects on her web site.

Anjella Roessler Anjella Roessler
1. Corio Bay 1803, 2+ Wadawurrung males killed.
2. Leigh River 1838, Wadawurrung male killed.
3. Weribee 1840s, many Wadawurrung poisoned
© Anjella Roessler

sources - Inrepid

links - artist's web site.

added - 10Mar19

Willy Ronis

Autoportrait aux flashes
Autoportrait aux flashes, 1951

b: 1910 Paris / d: 2009 Paris

a French photographer. His best-known work shows life in post-war Paris and Provence. wikipedia

One of Peter Stepan's 50 Photographers You Should Know.

Ronis is clearly operating in the same milieu as Cartier-Bresson and Brassaï, although without the harder-edged subject matter of the latter. There are clear parallels between Ronis' Le Petit Parisien, 1952 and Cartier-Bresson's Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 1952. The Ronis image is perfectly exposed to show movement in the feet and the shadow is captured beautifully. It is possible the photographer persuaded his subject to run past several times, but that is not important (an internet search for Willy Ronis contact sheets produced fig. 1a for Le Nu provencal, but nothing for Le Petit Parisien).

Willy Ronis Ronis Willy Ronis Willy Ronis
1. Le Nu provencal, Gordes, 1949
1a. Le Nu provencal, contact sheets
2. River boat, Paris, 1949 
3. Le Petit Parisien, 1952
© the estate of Willy Ronis

sources - Wikipedia, Stepan (2008)


added - 23Dec18

Marta Rossignol

Marta Rossignol
Marta Rossignol
self portrait

born - died

In the 29th May 2021 online edition of L’Œil de la Photographie

Teddy Bear’s Dreams – Leaving
Where does this crazy idea to photograph a little bear all around the world comes from? Perhaps because of Amélie Poulain’s garden gnome? Who cares! Everyone had a Teddy bear, it’s our childhood, a part of us, the moment when the whole world was opening without limits to our thirst for space and liberty. As the trip continues, the little bear is chasing our dreams, our hopes, he comes up against our disappointments and our failures, facing our nostalgias, the noise and the fury, the world’s indifference, he is facing to himself, but he also meets the other…
Then, with all his hopes he can ignore the resignations and the borders, and start again, free and light, through the silvery reflections of the world…
Marta Rossignol
Since 14 years ago, on all continents, across twenty countries, a silver bear goes for a walk in different places, different borders, different hands. This project was started in 2007 by the photographer Marta Rossignol who has reached her cultural and artistic maturity.
This work is still in progress and never stops growing: every year Marta Rossignol is covering new countries to take advantage of new aspects and new situations. The work is alive, in constant development according to the state of mind of the moment, the artist’s desires, the encounters, the general atmosphere and the local culture.
Capturing the lights of the world with his metallic dress, arousing immediately the sympathy and the kindness of the people around him, the little bear symbolizes the part of the childhood that is still alive in all of us, of imagination, and share this innocence with the public.
Always identical, he arouses, however, changeable impressions and feelings according to the context where he is moving on and his mood seems to fluctuate in every step of his journey. And we confront our own dreams with the images of his distant encounters. This is the purpose of the presentation, to cause a variety of emotions through the little bear’s adventures, reflection of our souls. citation


Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol Rossignol
from The Bear's Dreams, Les Rêves de l'Oursin
© Marta Rossignol

sources - artist's web site - Wikipedia

links - L’Œil de la Photographie - facebook

added - 29May21

Thomas Ruff [V&A]

JPEG kj01, Ruff
JPEG kj01 © Thomas Ruff

b: 1958 West Germany

Rachel Stevens is more imaginative.

This piece, commenting on two reviews of a Ruff project, was written as coursework.

JPEGs, Thomas Ruff

Ruff was born in Germany in 1958, developed an interest in photography in his teens and attended Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1977 to 1985 where he studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher (known for their grid presentations of industrial architecture photographs). He shares a studio in Düsseldorf with Andreas Gursky. His earlier bodies of work include large scale portraits (1981-85), architecture ("Häuser", 1987 and 1991), Sterne (manipulations of sourced astro-photographs, 1989) and Nudes (manipulated images sourced from internet pornography, 2003) [1]. In 2009, Ruff published JPEGs, internet-sourced images, reduced (where necessary) to low resolution and then enlarged to emphasise the pixilatory effect of JPEG compression.

Less than 25% of Campany's article [2] deals directly with Ruff's JPEGs §. He describes Ruff's work as a whole in terms of opposites in tension: "as public as it is private", "as anonymous as it is personal", "at once familiar clichés and estranged visions". He examines at length the use of found objects and "the archive" in various art forms, implying that Ruff's use of other people's images has a long and honourable artistic pedigree. In the single paragraph addressing JPEGs, he suggests that extreme pixel enlargements demonstrate the underlying physical similarity between digital images that nevertheless allow an infinite range of aesthetic expession within the constraints of the medium, again invoking opposites, "to simultaneously emphasize and de-emphasize [the] specific".  
The most interesting and incisive part of the article contrasts the analogue "scattered chaos" of photographic grain with the "grid-like, machinic and repetitive" pixel structure in the digital image, noting that nowadays even images that are analogue in origin are usually viewed as digital, pixel-based scans on digital media. He praises Ruff's lead in bringing the "cold [technology]" to public attention through the JPEG series that emphasise its simultaneous "figuration [and] abstraction".

Colberg [3] notes and dismisses the question of whether Ruff's JPEGs constitutes photography. He quotes an interview [4] in which Ruff describes the origin of the JPEG project. The failure of Ruff's photographs in New York following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, led to him to look at online images, many of "terribly low resolution" and in turn to explore the effect of pixilation. As noted above, however, Ruff had already manipulated sourced digital images in previous projects.
Colberg compliments the large format book edition of JPEGs, regarding this as a more effective and appropriate scale for publication than the "gigantic prints in the Zwirner gallery" which were "a tad too pretentious" and too large for the image detail available. While acknowledging that many of the manipulated images the the JPEG series are intrinsically beautiful (irrespective of their origins which might or might not have been) Colberg doubts whether Ruff's concept is sufficient to justify the project or, indeed the hype that surrounded it.

In conclusion, Ruff's JPEGs series is a notable example of an artist exploring the limits of medium specificity and a fascinating way to end this section of the course.

[494 words]

§ The article contains 1427 words, the sixth paragraph, dealing mostly with JPEG contains 281 (20%), even including the last paragraph only brings the proportion to 26%.

1. Wikipedia, [accessed 7th August 2018]
2. Campany D.,Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel [accessed 6th August 2018]
3. Colberg, J., Review: jpegs [accessed 6th August 2018]
4. Ruff interview with Max Dax,published in Dreissig Gespräche, edition suhrkamp, 2009, trans. Colberg.
5. The Guardian (11th June 2009), Thomas Ruff's best shot, [accessed 7th August 2018]

John Runk

Runk, 1936
John Runk, 1936

b: 1878 Menomonee, Wisconsin / d: 1964 Stillwater

I first encountered John Runk's work when reading John Szarkowski's The Photographer's Eye for the course. He includes Runk's Pine Boards and Frank Stenlund as one of the illustrations.

The Stillwater Current provides a biography,

… Runk began his professional career as a photographer in 1899 when he set up the “American Eagle Studio,” with a photo of an eagle as his trademark … He devised a camera, which would do almost every kind of photography, including portraits, out door views, enlargements, reduction and general photography. It took Runk many years to perfect this camera, but it ultimately led to the creation of his historical collection.
Runk became the first photographer in Stillwater to use electric lights in taking portrait photos; the first to use cut-films instead of dry plates; and the first to use tinting in his work. Runk took many photos of the most interesting scenes in the St. Croix Valley … Runk’s greatest contribution to this community was his passion for his historical collection. Runk not only took photographs of the area, but he also collected photographs from people … Late in his career, Runk made movies. This was just a hobby he once explained, but many of the films were great demand and Runk would pass them around to various organizations.
By 1964, John Runk’s health began to fail and in October 1964, John Runk died.
John Runk’s passion became his life’s work. He spent most of his extra money on producing one of the most complete photographic histories of any area in the United States. Runk never intended on making a profit from his collection. “I’m not interested in making a pile of money out of this, but it’s my contribution to the city I’ve called home for so many years.” Stillwater Current
John Runk Runk Bridge Runk, 1903 Runk's shop
1. Pine Boards and Frank Stenlund, South Stillwater (now Bayport), Minnisota, 1912
2. The Soo Line High Bridge on the St. Croix River, under construction in 1911
3. John Runk in 1903
4. John Runk' shop c. 1930
© the estate of John Runk and others

sources - Stillwater Current, Star Tribune


Ed Ruscha, see Nichers

Ed Ruscha
Ed Ruscha, Leo Holub

b: 1937 Omaha, Nebraska

Edward Ruscha (pronounced "roo-SHAY") is more of a painter than a photographer, but he has had a significant impact on the latter medium with his photobooks. Of particular note are Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966). There's a full list of his books here on Wikipedia.

Gerry Badger (Gen) writes,

When artist Ed Ruscha drove from Los Angeles to his home state of Oklahoma in the early 1960s, he took some apparently artless photographs of the gasolene stations he encountered on his journey. Published in 1962 as Twentysix Gasoline Stations, in a roughly produced paperback, these 'bad' photographs revolutionized both the art of photography and the photographic book.
[It] … inaugurated the genre of the 'artist's book', a form which has become extremely important and widespread mode of production for artists, particularly conceptual artists. The Genius of Photography p. 208

For Sunset Strip, Photography, The Whole Story (Who) notes,

To photograph [Sunset Strip] Ed Ruscha loaded a continuous strip of black-and-white 35mm film into his motor-driven Nikon F2 and mounted it on a tripod in the bed of a pick-up truck. He then snapped photographs at regular intevals as he drove down Sunset Strip, a mile-and-a-half (2.4km) stretch of Sunset Boulevard. Photography, The Whole Storyp. 408

Jackie Higgins (Foc) quotes Rucha as saying,

I think photography is dead as a fine art … The photographs I use are not "arty". Why it does not have to be in focus p. 46

Ed Ruscha Ed Ruscha Ed Ruscha Ed Ruscha
1. Twentysix Gasoline Stations, cover
2. from Twentysix Gasoline Stations
3. Every Building on the Sunset Strip
4. from Every Building on the Sunset Strip
© Ed Ruscha

sources - Wikipedia

links - artist's web site


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sources - Wikipedia


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Page created 15-Aug-2018 | Page updated 19-Sep-2021