Interpretation of images

Started Oct 29, 2012 | Discussions thread
Paul20 Senior Member • Posts: 2,600
Re: Twoddle

RaajS wrote:

Paul20 wrote:


A good and enjoyable discussion thanks for posting.

However I must take issue with the thrust of this argument - "a good image should be visually compelling".

or in Peter's words:

"If you have to read a book, or attend a class, or visit an art gallery in order to appreciate the image before you, then it has failed".


This is too simple. Take the work of Thomas Ruff as an extreme example of photography which needs an understanding of context to be appreciated. He has produced images from enlarged newspaper articles, night vision photographs, highly pixilated landscapes or nudes culled form the internet or even computer generated images from mathematical code. He produces images without the use of a camera.

See this link:

Thomas' work is often about the production of an image or the limits of what we understand an image to be. His work is not easily accessible, I couldn't really say I like most of the images and its not the sort of think I want to explore. But that's sort of not the point. The work is fascinating.

Sorry if I've come across a bit super-serious but I get excited by this sort of thing!




Thanks for jumping in and for your strong views! I doubt anyone is going to call the Leica forum a bunch of bland, decorous, middle-aged doctors and lawyers bent on getting along at all costs if we continue in this way!

Also appreciate your pointers to Ruff. I have seen him associated with Gursky in the past but have not looked at his work recently. I'll definitely dive into it and come back to you.

What I did find in my brief research so far, that I am inclined to borrow from you and call twoddle, is this:


Thomas Ruff’s photography suggests the possibilities of his chosen medium, as he might use digital manipulation for one subject and antiquated darkroom techniques for another. Ruff works in series, creating defined bodies of work whose subjects include empty domestic interiors, appropriated interplanetary images captured by NASA, abstractions of modernist architecture, three-dimensional computer-generated Pop imagery, and obscured pornography. Ruff’s portraiture series of the early 1980s (his first to receive critical acclaim) featured groupings of large three-quarter portraits like so many passport photos; their enlarged scale offered a startling level of legibility. Though these, like many of his photographic series, seem to beg a sociocultural interpretation, perhaps the most constant feature in Ruff’s career is his disavowal of such a reading. Instead Ruff focuses on aesthetics and process, building an eclectic oeuvre not defined by genre, method, or theme, but rather by stark imagery, relative conceptual seriality of subject, and the clever subversion of the printed image.


From the Gagosian Gallery blurb on Ruff. That is the sort of psychobabble that the art world has been indulging in. Of course, as many others on this thread have pointed out, art is a very personal experience but in my mind there are limits. At some point I have say "Really? That sounds like a lot of bull to me"


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'Change is not Mandatory, you don't have to Survive...'


Call me anything you like, just not middle-aged! ha ha  

Yes that Gagosian quote is a bit waffly but to be fair Ruff's work is not easily to describe is a very succinct sentences. Most of what you have a quoted is just a description of what his work is not really an analysis of his ideas. But lets not get hung up on Thomas Ruff, he is one example. What I am getting at here is that because an image is not 'visually compelling' does not necessarily mean it has 'failed'.


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