In English, AHEAD means to move forward, to lead or progress. The title is also a pun: A HEAD (one head).
Kruithof began this project by questioning how to create an anonymous portrait, where the subject’s identity remains private. By capturing the back of the head, one cannot recognize gender, nationality, age, facial expressions or emotion. Removing all of these features, which are so often included in indexes within the tradition of portrait photography, unifies all of the portraits. It is important to Kruithof that facial recognition systems are unable to identify or verify a person’s identity from these photos.
Anonymity is central to this project and AHEAD shows a failure in the human encyclopedic tendency by means of anti-labeling and anti-classification. For this installation, the artist processed the images by their color values, which unifies the diversity of the people depicted; this differs from the usual archiving methods of organizing by date or location. AHEAD provides a visual meditation because of the minimal effort the brain requires to interpolate visual stimuli.
The entire collection of photos are 1,080 in total; together it appears as if they are composed of individual dots, like pixels making up an image. Each photograph is taken with an iPhone; the subject chooses their own background color as they would when taking a selfie, facing the background instead of posing in front of it.
Kruithof then arranges these photos into a grid, the way digital photographs are organized online and in our mobile devices, a now common way to view archives of images.
AHEAD.WEBSITE is a webpage organized by an algorithm in which the grid is visualized in different ways depending on the device it is being seen with. AHEAD is an ongoing project that appears in an edition (PDF) of 12 works and different site-specific versions, shown previously in the project space FOUR A.M. in New York (2015), PhotoRoad Festival in Gibellina, Sicily (2016), and in FotoMuro at Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City (2017).
This project has been possible thanks to the help and collaboration of:
Felicity van Oort, Selma Hengeveld, Daleen Bloemers, Samara Saade, Mariela Sancari, Jakub Straka, Walter Shintani, Sabrina Mandanici, Emma Andreetti, Monica Terrero, Allegra Cordero di Montezemolo y Fabiola Menchelli. Special thanks to each of the participants who agreed to be photographed backwards.
Thanks for the generous support from Centro de la Imagen and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.