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Thomas Ruff:

Thomas Ruff

Installation view of Thomas at PKM.

PKM Gallery begins its 2024 program with a solo exhibition featuring Thomas Ruff, renowned as a master of contemporary photography, titled This exhibition marks Ruff’s return to Korea after 20 years, unveiling his latest photography series of the same name, (2022-), for the first time in Asia. The artist will be present in Korea for the opening week of the exhibition and the Artist Talk is scheduled for February 22nd at 3pm in the gallery.

Installation view of Thomas at PKM.

Thomas Ruff has established his own distinctive visual language on the international stage, consistently exploring and challenging the technology and idea of photography. He has been examining how emerging technologies reshape our perspectives, embracing their potential and limitations as the medium evolves from analog to digital, transforming into a means that not only captures reality but also shows the invisible world. His photography series presented since the late 1970s have encompassed over 25 subjects and genres, ranging from classical portraiture to images collected and edited from data circulating on the Internet, forms transmitted from satellites or mass media, and algorithmically generated digital works. It is evident that his extensive body of work over the span of 40 years aligns closely with the history of contemporary photography in both the 20th and 21st centuries.

Thomas Ruff,, 2023, Colaris print on velour carpet, 267x200cm © Thomas Ruff. Courtesy of the artist & PKM Gallery.

The recent work,, to be presented in this exhibition, is the artist’s first venture into using carpets as a support in photography. The heterogenous fractal pattern unfolds like an ecstasy on a large carpet measuring up to 290cm. The term ‘fractal’, proposed by mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot in 1975, refers to a structure found in both nature and artificial environment, where basic formative elements repeatedly proliferate as they increase or decrease. Ruff attempted to reflect the multidimensional beauty of the fractal structure in his work in the early 2000s, but it was not achievable with the technology of the time. However, in 2022, twenty years later, the work was finally realized with the advent of new software. Acknowledging the inseparable relationship between photography and technology, Ruff literally ‘dives into’ the new technology, extracting fantastic images and projecting them deeply onto soft fabrics.

Thomas Ruff,, 2022, Colaris print on velour carpet, 267x200cm © Thomas Ruff. Courtesy of the artist & PKM Gallery.

Meanwhile, the title ‘’ is derived from Aldous Huxley’s autobiographical essay, The Doors to Perception (1954). In this essay, Huxley explores the idea that humans can expand their consciousness and transcend themselves through chemical catalysts. In response, Ruff broadens our perception of the world through images computed in The resulting panels depict familiar natural environments, such as leaves, feathers, and shells, while immersing the viewer in a psychedelic virtual space. They evoke images of fine cells under a microscope as well as the unpredictable phenomena of the vast universe. Bridging Mandelbrot’s mathematics with Huxley’s literature, Ruff’s new works pioneer the state of photography once again, existing at the ambiguous boundary between the reality we perceive and the reality we create. They invite us to transcend the confines of visual perception and explore beyond the doors of perception.

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