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Jäger started creating 'photomaterialistic works' in 1983, which included photo objects, photo assemblages, and photo installations. Through this series of works, he explored constitutional photographic elements such as light and materiality in image processing in an analogue method. In the early 1990s, he began involving digital technology and generative computer programs.
Jäger's 'photo' series, which began in 2004, is based on the use of a customized computer image processing application called Adobe Photoshop™. However, the program is not used for its original purpose, but rather to produce its own images of pure syntax and form. The program plays with itself, and its syntactic qualities are perceivable, as there is no pictorial motive that interferes or 'disrupts' its self-reference. This process creates formal images, which Jäger calls 'photographisms'. These photographisms refer to the photographic canon of form and become the objects in our observation.
Gottfried Jäger is a pioneering figure in the field of "abstract" photography since the early 1960s. He sees photography not only as a means of representing external conditions but as an artistic object in itself. His work has influenced a new generation of photographic artists, such as James Welling, Walid Beshty, Liz Deschenes, and Marco Breuer. He has received numerous accolades for his contributions to German photographic art, including the Culture Prize of the German Society for Photography in 2014, which recognized his academic achievements as a photo theorist and photo historian.
Jäger's works are "photographs of photography" that reveal the hidden image in the photographic universe. His image orders emerge through partly logical, partly random series of images, akin to experimental investigations in a scientific laboratory. His series reflect the logic of the apparatus and the controlled and repeatable process of finding and creating images. His early works include "Gradations" (1983), visible through photographic black-and-white material, and "Chromogenic Series" (from 1980). He transitioned to computer-related works in the 1990s with his "Mosaics," which he calls "snapshots" from the data network.
Jäger's work is connected to other disciplines of the "concrete" arts, including concrete music, concrete poetry, and concrete visual art. He has also devoted himself to the formation of concepts, as evident in his more than thirty books, including "The Art of Abstract Photography" (2002), "Can Photography Capture our Time in Images? A Time-Critical Balance" (2004), and "Concrete Photography" (2005). His artistic path is marked by numerous international exhibitions and works in important museums and collections. He has participated in the first generation of early computer art and its manifestations, such as "Experiments in Art and Technology" (1968), "New Tendencies" (1969), and "Wege zur Computerkunst" (1970-1976).