Surfaces and Depths.
Photographs by Thomas Ruff. Edited by Gerald Matt. Text by Catherine Hug,
Douglas Fogle, Kurt W. Forster, Gerald Matt.
Verlag fur Moderne Kunst Nurnberg, 2009. 288 pp., 101 color illustrations, 6½x9¼".
Surfaces and Depths is a representative selection
of Thomas Ruff’s works, over a period that
already spans about 25 years, with projects
ranging from portraits and interiors to telescope
and space probe pictures and “nightsight” photography.
Ruff incorporates an extremely wide
range of everyday subjects into his experiments—
people, architecture, planets, the
Internet—and subjects them to all forms of
camera technology, so that his work often
seems to embody the history of the art as it
develops. Ruff has a particular fascination with
photographic techniques that appear to erase
or leave out the artist’s hand, techniques often
designed for military or scientific purposes. In a
recent series titled Zycles, for example, Ruff constructs
his images with the help of mathematical
formulas and computer technology, twisting
two-dimensional surfaces into the three-dimensional
space of vector graphics. Surfaces and
Depths focuses on ten of Ruff’s total of 18 projects
to address this particular ongoing preoccupation
with artistic detachment, and the polarities
of surface and depth vision in the construction
of images. In doing so, it makes the broadest
assessment to date of the oeuvre of this tireless
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