Like his nudes (1999– ) and Substrate (Substratum) (2001– ) series, Ruff found the source material for the jpegs on the internet. In a virtual equivalent to his collection of newspaper cuttings started in the early 1980s, he created an archive of digital images based on broad, loosely defined categories, including catastrophes created by humankind, catastrophes created by nature, nature conquering human-made creations, and idylls.
Using digital techniques, he altered the selected images by changing their structure, often increasing their compression, lowering the pixel-per-centimeter ratio, and adding color. The resulting, large-format prints appear overtly pixelated and at times almost abstract. Ranging from landscapes and cityscapes to rocketships and the burning Twin Towers in New York, the motifs are visually diverse, as if taken from an encyclopaedia. Reflecting the cursory nature in which photographs are typically encountered online, the distorted subjects barely convey the information they were intended to, and rather become formal, aesthetic objects. The overt pixelation adds a painterly component to the works, which is further complemented by the large size of the prints, traditionally associated with nineteenth-century history paintings rather than photographs. Neither factual nor fictive, the compositions are testaments to narratives easily lost in the information overflow of mass media society.