Research Point: Surface and Depth – ‘jpegs’

2nd February 2021

Dawn Tomlin – ‘jpegs’

The seaside collection: Lowestoft

Lowestoft Promenade – Seaside Storm
Natural Still life – Seaside Treasure
Natural Still life – Shaped 1
Natural Still life – Shaped 2

Self-portrait: Thought

Resting time

Self portrait – Resting Time

Music time at the station

Portrait: Selene

Warhol’s identity parade

This is crated from an original photograph that I have taken at the TATE MODERN exhibition: Andy Warhol – ‘Elvis I AND II’ (1964)


Although we given an example measurement to work by, ‘…re-sizing a photograph to say, 180 x 270 pixels, and saving at ‘zero quality’ compression.’ I experimented not only with these measurements but others. It was interesting for me to note how the different pixel sizes per width and height altered each image visually.

Jpeg series workflow:

  1. Open image in Photoshop
  2. Adjust image sizing in pixels
  3. Save at zero quality compression
  4. Make image larger on screen and screenshot the changes before closing the image from Photoshop
  5. Close image
  6. Re-open image and make larger on the screen, take a second screenshot of the image

The two screenshots will have visible differences in the size and content of their pixels. This is due to the fact that it is not until the image has been-reopened that the final conversion effect is achieved .

Two comparison screenshots can be seen below,

Read the reviews by Campany and Colberg and, if you haven’t already done so, use them to begin the Research section of your learning log. Try to pick out the key points made by each writer. Write about 300 words

oca eyv (2014)

Thomas Ruff: jpegs

The reviews by Campany and Colberg are written from individual perspectives. Campany’s essay is a longer critique with ideas, evidence and arguments around Ruff’s jpeg series using traditional photographic practices as a comparison. Colbert on the other hand has written a more personal and informal account reviewing Ruff’s images from a functional view point which includes looking at their reproduction for an exhibition and book.

Campany’s main points that he focuses on are Ruff’s ‘jpegs’ as a photographic archival form and their construction from digital pixels rather than traditional grain. He states the works are not traditional and are creative in outcome, for example, aesthetic, technically and artistically.

Campany’s writings are quite critical of Ruff’s practice as a photographic form because when manipulated both in post processing terms and in blowing the images up into a larger scale for exhibition, the images become ‘an art of the pixel.’ Contrastingly, Colbert embraces Ruff’s images aesthetic qualities and acknowledges the fact that Ruff is pushing the boundaries of photography although he does state that the concept behind the series is very thin.

Colbert also pays specific attention to the role of the pixel, focusing on the visual outcome of reproducing the images for exhibition and for book. He states that the gallery reproductions are far less valuable as a visual representation of the images than viewing them in book format because the details are lost even more by blowing them up, ‘…then they show funny patterns (caused by the image compression algorithms).’

In conclusion, I find that because both of the writings differ in both their content and their viewpoints on Ruff’s ‘jpegs’, I have gained a much wider range of information to learn from. However, these writings are based on both fact and personal statements and personally I would like to view the ‘jpeg’ series in both book format and at exhibition to formulate my own conclusion.

319 words including quotes

Thomas Ruff, jpeg msh01 (2004)
image: MoMA (accessed 03.02.21)

I have found reading the reviews and learning the jpeg technique very rewarding. Due to the fact that when researching and reviewing photographer’s work without seeing the whole series it is difficult to make an informed judgement of the work as a whole. Because I really found Ruff’s work and it’s concept fascinating, I managed to track down and purchase a copy of his book, ‘jpeg’.


Notes from reviews


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