Since the early 1960s, Gottfried Jäger has been working in the field of "abstract" photography. He regards the photographic process not only as a medium for conveying external conditions but as an artistic object in its own right.
With this approach, he is the forerunner of a new generation of photographic artists such as James Welling, Walid Beshty, Liz Deschenes, Marco Breuer, and others. In over fifty years of visual practice, his name has become one of the best known in German photographic art. In 2014, he received the Culture Prize of the German Society for Photography, like Stephen Shore (2010), Wolfgang Tillmans (2009), Ed Ruscha (2006), and David Hockney (1997) before him. The prize also recognized his academic achievements as a photo theorist and photo historian.
His works are "photographs of photography" (Stiegler), the result of a search for the hidden image in the photographic universe. In the process, his own image orders emerge, which are reflected in a partly logical, partly random series of images, comparable to experimental investigations in a scientific laboratory. These include GRADATIONS (1983), made visible through the photographic black-and-white material, and CHROMOGENIC SERIES (from 1980). With his MOSAICS, Jäger succeeded in the 1990s in connecting and transitioning to computer-related works. He calls them "snapshots," snapshots from the data network. They are not created "of their own free will" in a single creative moment but on the basis of earlier, photo-generated works and programs. Jäger shows that each technique generates its own visibility. His series reflect the logic of the apparatus and the controlled and repeatable process of finding and creating images.
With this approach, Gottfried Jäger participated in the activities of the first generation of early computer art and its manifestations: for example, in EXPERIMENTS IN ART AND TECHNOLOGY, Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1968, in NEW TENDENCIES, Zagreb, 1969; and worldwide in WEGE ZUR COMPUTERKUNST, 1970–1976, curated by Herbert W. Franke.