Following up on an earlier entry about Thomas Ruff, here is an interesting article from artnet.com about Thomas Ruff with more details about his work and background in general. I think the author’s reference to German painter Gerhard Richter is very important.
Thomas Ruff is teaching at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and you can look at his students’ portfolios here. And there are more examples from Ruff’s “Nudes” series” here and here (note: the latter link sometimes is a bit flaky).
I wonder what happens if you took Ruff’s approach but instead of creating aestheticized Richterian versions of those pornography thumbnails you’d create de-constructed Baconian versions of them (click here for a huge selection of paintings by Francis Bacon). What I mean by this is to avoid trying to make the images actually look pleasing but instead to focus on the fact that pornography has many aspects which actually can be quite disturbing. Of course, this statement depends on from which perspective you see pornography. Thus, there are many different ways to create those de-constructed images and some people might not even agree with the whole idea. By the way, I’m using the word “de-constructed” instead of “de-aestheticized” because in this whole scenario what you start from already can be quite far from being aesthetic.