It used to be so easy. Just cock the spring shutter and trigger the release… Nowadays it’s all cables and computers, preview screens and profiles. Occasionally though, usually by complete accident, all that technical wizardry produces a little spontaneous magic of its own.
Here’s me and Phase One making a hash of Moneo’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
Appraising the results however, makes me think there might be very little difference between high art and and a total screw up, other than a fabulous curatorial essay.
Here’s Thomas Ruff making
a hash art of Mies Van der Rohe’s Bauhaus House. In this case, Ruff didn’t actually take the original image. Rather, he appropriated the original image from archival material.
In a 2001 interview with Ronald Jones that appeared in Artforum, Ruff explained “So I began shooting those buildings too, but I couldn’t photograph all of them–some were obstructed by trees or by traffic and parked cars. So another mode appeared: using archival material. At first I thought I might hand-color some old black-and white prints, but in the end I did all the alterations on the computer.”
w.h.s. 01, Bauhaus House, from the L.M.V.D.R. Series, 2000/2004 ©Thomas Ruff
d.b.p.02, Barcelona Pavillion, from the L.M.V.D.R. Series, 2000/2004 ©Thomas Ruff
Actual Art Speak – “He interferes with the stark neutrality of certain of his architectural photos with more painterly versions of the same building, while his use of blurring effects, whether produced with the lens or computer manipulation, triggers an association with the photographically realist paintings of artists such as Gerhard Richter.” Tate Magazine online.
Fictional Art Speak – As part of an ongoing personal exploration into the perceived veracity of digital recording, the artist has purposefully intervened in the process to corrupt the accepted methodology of high resolution digital capture, highlighting the inherent instability and potential inaccuracies of the medium we, as a culture, hold to represent the truth. This deep-seated distrust of accepted societal norms references back to the artists’s early childhood when he, after drinking a glass of milk and despite being told it could not be done, was unexpectedly able to issue forth streams of milk from his nose while being tickled.
Actual Fact – I hit the wrong button at the wrong time and the pixel wells were exposed again as the initial signals were draining from the chip. D’oh!
Further from Artforum interview, Ruff continues…
“In this way, I have tried to do a contemporary-art exhibition about architecture from the past, using every technique available to contemporary photography. The computer is a great new tool for photography, an extension of the darkroom, allowing you to alter color, resolution, parts of the image, or even the whole thing. For the Krefeld show I was playing with issues surrounding the documentary aspects of architectural photography. What was in front of the camera is not what you see in the images, because I altered about 90 percent of them. In some I took out the color and made a new sky. In one there appears to be a ghost (is it Mies?), which was originally a bad exposure that I guided into an intention, let’s say.”
Looking back through my very own archives and guided, let’s say, by whimsical intention, I too sought to find some art amongst the digital trash.
Wrecked Richter 2008 ©Tim Griffith
Miro Miro on the Wall 2010 ©Tim Griffith
Frozen Fishsticks 2010 ©Tim Griffith
Griffimoto DNA II Series 2008 ©Tim Griffith
The Elusive Striped Zebra 2009 ©Tim Griffith
100 on the Richter Scale 2005 ©Tim Griffith
Pointless III 2008 ©Tim Griffith
Pointless IV 2011 ©Tim Griffith