Kruithof made a variety of works such as sculptures and photographed analogue screenshot-montages re-interpreting the imagery in a search for new value and new meaning. The works acknowledge that the strategically staged, sometimes Photoshopped and cropped imagery filling the Instagram accounts, which she has researched lack integrity to be viewed as pure evidence. To her the bigger issue remains of what are the strategies of the various corporate/bureaucratic entities doing the posting, and how much effect the images and accompanying text they post are having on people's thoughts and actions in order to achieve their goals. Yet her main reason for studying these images is not to question the entities’ goals and interests, but to express the inspiration that the images and the information contained in this new digital medium have given her. Together they communicate progress and the ambition of human endeavor in a very convincing manner.
According to Kruithof, now that everyone is to a certain degree a ‘pirate’, questions about the act of appropriation itself are no longer that relevant. However all the works in #EVIDENCE revolve around the question of how a re-contextualisation of an image can add meaning. To explore a range of different possible meanings, Kruithof used different criteria when selecting the source screenshots that would comprise the starting point for a given work.
While the imagery that made the original Evidence series is homage to humanity’s relentless curiosity, the technological advances this curiosity resulted in has caused Kruithof’s project #EVIDENCE to strike a more dystopian note. The activities of institutions, governmental agencies and corporations can still lead to interesting photographs, but their intent robs the image of its innocence. It is precisely this fact that is so easy to forget, and that #EVIDENCE reminds us of in a variety of unexpected ways.
For #EVIDENCE Kruithof is taking inspiration from the momentous book Evidence by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, which, when published in 1977 was ahead of its time in questioning photography-as-art and ideas of authorship. Sultan and Mandel used photographs they selected from the archives of various institutions throughout the west coast of the US, mixed together and shown in a sequence of autonomous images that formed a visual essay predicting America’s ambiguous future. Their book also served as a demonstration that the meaning of a photograph is conditioned by the context in which it is seen.
Anouk Kruithof has resided in New York City for the past four years. There she developed a curiosity that she shares with Sultan and Mandel as to what America’s ambiguous future will look like. In #EVIDENCE Kruithof researches whether a similar act can be performed in a digital age where the image as pure evidence has lost its integrity. The source of imagery Kruithof chose is one with clear promotional intent and thus questionable integrity: the Instagram accounts of various American corporations, institutions and governmental agencies.
An extensive research into the complete Instagram output of 27 corporations, 15 government agencies and 11 institutions lead to a selection of around 650 screenshots that form the source of the whole new body of work. In each of the various types of work that Kruithof derived from this source material she twists, alters, stretches and combines the material in different ways. By doing so Kruithof claims the imagery as her own and robs it of its promotional intent, instead adding new, varying intentions and messages. In a fashion quite similar to Mandel and Sultan, a new merit arises, this time a less concrete, less stable and less transparent one.
SORRY NO DEFINITIONS FOUND…
207 x 103 x 60 cm
Selfie-stick in concrete and papier-mâché with resin and + 150 inkjet prints 20 x 20 cm each
Kruithof took a group of different screenshots into the third dimension by turning them into an amorphous 3D object. The work Sorry, no definitions found is an object covered with a mix of high-tech-curiosity filled imagery taken from all the different researched Instagram accounts. The Inkjet prints of the screenshots are sprayed with hairspray, with the effect of leaving a mirrored image on their own back. Those backs of the prints cover the object and what remains is nondescript information in a trivial shape.
GREEN IS MORE THEN JUST A COLOR
200 x 143 x 12 cm
100 x 120 cm Flatbed print on 5 mm plexi-glass 140 x 200cm print on PVC curtain and pipe-insulation
edition of 3+2AP
In the work Green is more than just a color, Kruithof takes on rather innocent promotional material posted by the corporation Waste Management Inc. consisting of amateurish photos of employees posing in front of a green curtain with a chalkboard in their hands, on which they wrote a sentence displaying ideas for the future brought forward by concerns over the environment.
One employee wrote Green is more than just a color. However, Kruithof’s collage made from this material takes a much darker and familiar shape. Identities of the employees and their future-themed messages have been erased; only their smiles, some eyes and the green backdrop curtain remain on the new created re-photographed screenshot-collage.
The figurants in these images, stripped from their identities, holding signs with empty messages, create an ominous attitude which strongly shows the dubious promotional intent of the chosen Instagram account.
THIS PIC IS SICK & RAINBOW STRATEGIES
The 2 framed works which comprise This Pic is Sick are related to a work called Rainbow Strategies, where Kruithof did a similar simple erasing act. In all the Instagram output she researched, there were only five images containing a rainbow. This time she left the rainbows and erased the skies on the images that were originally posted in the corporate feeds of Procter & Gamble, General Dynamics and 3M, and the government feeds of the White House and NASA Ames.
Since time immemorial, a rainbow symbolizes life's essences, such as peace and equality. Posting a rainbow on Instagram is therefore a strategically meaningful act, which receives enthusiastic smiley’s and many likes in response. This work is inspired by Kruithof’s initial surprise when she discovered that this simple but powerful symbol was not used more often.
Kruithof took out just those blurred ID cards and printed them on the different plastics. The metal constructions which the prints are laying or stretched on form the sculptural bodies of a new physical existence, parallel to the original digital existence as images on an Instagram account. The metal shapes appear to have a de-humanized emotionality equal to the imagery added to them.
Neutrals is a set of 7 sculptures out of metal and prints on different kinds of plastics, such as PVC, vinyl and latex. The images on the prints are taken from screenshots of the TSA’s Instagram feed showing neatly displayed groups of confiscated items, mainly weapons. For documentation, the identity cards of the contraband owners were part of the display, but for privacy reasons they were always blurred up to a point where even the gender or race of the person were no longer discernible.
Photograph, 80 x 120 cm, matt white metal frame with UV protected glass and Fine Art Print on Hahnemühle matt paper
Carry On… takes on a re-photographed analogue screenshot-montage showing 2,212 firearms, which were confiscated in 2014 at airport security checkpoints all over America. A collage of all these weapons was made by an employee of the TSA and posted on Instagram as an impressive violent but also creative warning against such behavior. For this work Kruithof has carefully cut out the actual firearms; the result, surprisingly, looks more clandestine than the original image. For the TSA, the original images were evidence documenting various concealed weapons violations. For Kruithof, the act of cutting out the weapons and filling the holes with the same pixel color as the original background was purposefully creating anti-evidence, removing all furiosity the weapons represent, truly concealing the weaponry and all its connotations.
The work Another Universe is a tall amorphous object, which is covered with A3 prints of screenshots out of the NASA Instagram feed. The NASA images are deliberately twisted in Photoshop thus creating a misleading universe. Where the universe usually surrounds us, we can now surround this new universe with our physical presence.
Sculpture, 230 x 95 x 80 cm
Selfie-stick in concrete and papier-mâché with resin and + 200 laser prints 28 x 40 cm each
photos 28,4 x 28,4 cm
28 matt white metal frames with UV protected glass and inkjet print on Hahnemuhle matt paper. edition of 5+2AP
Kruithof made a large series of photographs of analogue screenshot-montages out of hundreds of prints; mirroring the square format of their source, the photos measure 27 x 27 cm and were taken with an analogue 6 x 6 format camera.
Those new photographs are mixed up Instagram-realities of all those institutions and form a new story. Primarily they form a portrait of human endeavor that is also present throughout the original selection of screenshots.
And secondarily they play with the importance of the subconscious; when one is confronted with such an overload of images, the brain tends to form rather unexplainable affinities that allow us to organize and interpret the visual information provided.