Art is a journey into the most unknown thing of all - oneself. Nobody knows his own frontiers… I don’t think I’d ever want to take a road if I knew where it led.

Louis Kahan

"When I was eighteen I had to decide whether to become an astronomer or a photographer"

( http://www.jca-online.com/ruff.html )

Thomas Ruff

04 h 20m/-70°, 1992

Chromogenic Color print on diasec in wooden frame
258.5 x 186.5 cm, Framed: 258.5 x 186.5 x 4 cm

Having acquired many negatives of the night sky above Chile—supplied by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), an international research center situated in the Atacama Desert—Thomas Ruff started to print large-scale, and seemingly abstract, photographs of stars, galaxies, and nebula. He maintained the titles of the ESO negatives, which indicate the coordinates of the sky in the center of the image. His most dramatic intervention seems to have been the change of format from the square 25 x 25 cm negative to a monumental portrait format—a reference to the Renaissance topos of the painting as window, here suggesting a view to outer space. Selecting details from the negatives, Ruff divided them into six categories, in which the stars themselves were either in the foreground or the background or were very remote, or the focus was interstellar objects, the Milky Way, or other galaxies. These photographs present the viewer with a duality: it is obvious what the white dots on a black background are, but without expert knowledge it is impossible to read the images as anything other than abstract pattern. Therefore, for the viewer the focus shifts from the subject matter to the startling beauty and simplicity of the composition.


*1958 Zell am Hamersbach, Germany

link



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