Thomas Ruff

Thomas Ruff, Stereofotos (Alpen II), 1996
2-teilig, C-Print, Stereoskop auf Tisch
Courtesy Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich, Foto: Thomas Kellner

These two works by Thomas Ruff depict a magnificent mountain backdrop and a rather unspectacular industrial complex. In each case two photographs are displayed as a pair in identical white-painted wooden boxes with mirrors inside and glass lids. The photographs are positioned sidewise on wooden holders that slope inwards; thus, they are reflected in mirrors set up like a tent in the middle of the box. The viewer is able to see the whole arrangement from above. If he adopts a position at the centre of the table’s long side and looks straight down onto the narrow angle of the mirror inside, he can see a three-dimensional image. Thomas Ruff began to investigate the process of stereophotography in 1992, and the first authorised shots date from 1994. Ruff had been led to stereoscopy by his general interest in the conditions of human perception and of image creation in particular. He has reactivated the principle of the stereoscope – invented in Great Britain in 1838/1844 for the creation of 3-D images – but implements it as a self-reflecting viewing apparatus rather than an illusionary machine.

Thomas Ruff (born 1958) lives in Düsseldorf.