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On Anouk Kruithof.

  • Oct 14 2021
  • Dalia Maini
    is a writer, editor and urban mermaid.

To trust the statement, All visual media is social media, is to understand that the meanings conveyed in the pictures taken, received and perceived through social media are something ingrained in our very perception of society. We use them to share most of our life, to depict ourselves to others, to feel a sense of belonging and of being represented by a community. Throughout the 20th century, the proliferation of images has generated what the theorist of visual cultures T.J. Mitchell defined as a pictorial turn: a post-linguistic, post-semiotic rediscovery of the picture as a complex relation between visuality, apparatus, discourse, bodies, and figurality. The visual field, in its material ungraspability, represents an environment that has shifted from the role of representation to that of construction and organization of the social realm. The continuous stream of production, reproduction, remediation and commodification of images, accentuated by the pace and misfortunes of our hyper-capitalistic times, puts the individual in front of their self-representation, while mirroring themself in that of the others. The result is that humanity is held captive by the dichotomic power of mediatic depiction: identification and datification. The artist Anouk Kruithof (b.1981, Dordrecht, the Netherlands) nests her work within those two phenomena, investigating how social themes emerge through and are shaped by online representation. She does so by occupying different states of the matter, molding the virtual with the sculptural, the psychological with the material, the individual with the social. Her research interlaces the absence of a physical context with the condition of a humanity stressed and reassured by the control of an image-mediated world. Kruithof surfs the web in search of visual phenomena which represent the moods and states of mind that recursively arise within the potentially infinite tabs of the screen. She then gives a shape, a solidity, a physicality to those images, arranging them in an estraniating, sculptural three-dimensionality. In her multi-layered project Universal Tongue, Kruithof recomposes a visual database of dances, gathered from the population inhabiting the World Wide Web from their bedrooms. Dance as a universal way of expression and escapism, a tool for connecting to people, for finding intimacy and care: this represents an anthropological phenomenon of communication among social groups, both in ‘real life’ and online. The project has a current collection of 8800 videos from YouTube and Instagram, which have been categorized by a group of researchers according to the dance styles and the culture/group of identification of the bodies who danced.  As a tiled rendering of the human impulse to move, express themself and share, Kruithof composes a wish landscape of interconnectedness where the mutual recognition of individuality becomes a possibility of human achievement and joy. Universal Tongue represents the underlying spirit of individuals to affirm their presence in a world of physical separateness and mediatic partedness, and to feel the junctures of their bodies connected to the muscles of other digital souls. Kruithof’s research on the gaps between mediatic materialities has led to the publication on paper of the dances database: the encyclopedic collection of screenshots from the videos accompanied by short texts now constitutes a volume, which navigates humanity through the universal language of scores and movements.

    [1] T.J. Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation, University of Chicago Press; 2. Edition, 1995.
    [2] Ludwig Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations (1953), New York: Macmillan stated that a picture holds us captive.
    [3] Nicholas Mirzoeff, states in How to See the World: An Introduction to Images, from Self-Portraits to Selfies, Maps to Movies, and More, Basic Books, 2016, that the tiled rendering “is a good metaphor for how the world is visualized today.”

    Anouk Kruithof, Universal Tongue Poster



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