Finishing this week is Thomas Ruff's exhibition ma.r.s. at the Gagosian gallery on Brittania Street.
The exhibition features a series of large C-prints of manipulated photographs, based on digital images originally taken by the HiRISE camera aboard the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in 2006.
Ruff firstly blows these image up to room size proportions, often 2.5 metres high, to the point where the C-print takes on the surface appearance of a painting.
Further manipulations push the images further - sometimes slanting them to make it look that they were taken from a lower angle, rather than an orbiting craft; sometimes saturating the colours with a red hue, and sometimes adding a 3D stereographic process that splits out red-green spectrum.
In the description that accompanies the exhibition at the Mai 36 gallery in Zurich in 2011, Valeria Lieberman describes Ruff's Ma.r.s series thus:
"Not only does he use the pictures themselves; he processes them to bring out the aesthetic quality of his scientific sources. He invites us to take a fictional voyage of exploration into the beauty of outer space. Given the current debate on the near future of manned space travel for the public-at-large, these pictures seem to prefigure what travellers will one day bring home from their journeys into outer space."
Viewed close up, the surface of Mars occupying almost all of your vision, it is almost possible to fall into the image, to be hovering over the red planet, to imagine yourself there. Then you pull back, and contemplate the immense human achievement in capturing these images, and the meticulous work of Ruff in turning these scientific images into works of art.
You can view the original HiRISE images on the NASA HiRISE viewer site. There's also a good review of the MRO mission on the Planetary Society site.