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Book Review: The Bungalow


Book Review The Bungalow Sarah Bay Gachot The Bungalow resulted from a sequestering. Kruithof locked herself away with hundreds of vernacular photographs and made a record of those electrified, metaphorical moments of experiencing pictures — imagining exactly how she thought these images should be processed and presented as “screen reality” in book form; making new photography from old. The book contains five chapters and differing grades of paper — blue-tinted, white matte, and thin glossy-color and black-and-white.
The Bungalow by Anouk Kruithof.
Onomatopee, 2014.

The Bungalow
Reviewed by Sarah Bay Gachot

The Bungalow
By Anouk Kruithof
Onomatopee, 2014. 272 pp., 7½x9¾x2".


The Bungalow resulted from a sequestering. Anouk Kruithof locked herself away with hundreds of vernacular photographs and made a record of those electrified, metaphorical moments of experiencing pictures — imagining exactly how she thought these images should be processed and presented as “screen reality” in book form; making new photography from old. The book contains five chapters and differing grades of paper — blue-tinted, white matte, and thin glossy-color and black-and-white. Each chapter is a visual riff that categorizes or conjures, layers or double exposes. “In my view,” writes Kruithof in her essay that introduces the book, “this is the way to record the screen reality in which we live.”

The project began when Kruithof e-mailed London-based collector, writer, and curator Brad Feuerhelm after encountering bits of his collection of thousands of vernacular photographs on Facebook, Flickr, and Tumblr. “Here is the start of an idea,” she wrote in an e-mail to Feuerhelm in late 2012 after he invited her to London to see his collection of photographs in person, “... I need to make some kind of grid; create a structure. I have to find a method to deal with all the photos.” To do this — to “deal with” this collection — she selected 500 of the photographs, which Feuerhelm scanned for her. She then holed up with these 500 images in digital form in a remote bungalow in a small town “on an almost island in the South of Holland,” and spent a few months visiting and communing with them.

The Bungalow by Anouk Kruithof. Onomatopee, 2014.
The Bungalow by Anouk Kruithof. Onomatopee, 2014.

“Command Shift 3,” registers nearly two dozen screenshot spreads that Kruithof made while she had selections of JPEG scans open in Photoshop — images of weather, fetish, corners, obscure objects, missed exposures, and candid expressions – with filenames, rulers, scroll bars, and doc sizes lining their JPEG frames. In one screenshot, an image named “_<>_.jpg” shows a woman with a fire-engine-red lipsticked smile leaning back and looking up. She wears 1950s-style high-waisted and pointy-bosomed lingerie. She is layered over another vintage image (indicated by the purplish-red fade of its chroma) of a woman covered, cut off at the eyebrow by this other picture, but evidently lifting her arms over her head, running a hand over her hair. Above this is a photograph of a reclining silhouette propped up on one elbow over a glossy black floor. There’s a white curtain, a branch with sparse pink blossoms, and a piece of furniture that might be described as a tongue-shaped chest of drawers installed from floor to ceiling on a silver pole. A tiny JPEG frame, named “<...>.jpg,” shows something baudy, something with more than one cleavage, mardi gras beads, and other pendants. Another image is of bodies entangled, all tanned Caucasian skin and strawberry blond hair, rolling around on a grey plastic tarp. And then there is a fire, whipping up from a landscape, whispy clouds and mountains in the background.

The Bungalow by Anouk Kruithof. Onomatopee, 2014.

The book includes selections from Kruithof and Feuerhelm’s e-mail correspondences nestled between chapters. Feuerhelm also contributes an “Outroduction” on collecting and the subjective nature of discovering meaning in photographs. The chapter “Screen-Reality” (which is broken up into chapter 1a at the beginning of the book, and 1b at the end) is printed on the pale blue paper and shows photographs juxtaposed and layered in Photoshop, with selection boxes and crop marks. The chapter “Eye Candy,” shows what looks like double-exposed centerfold-style, cropped, and grainy color images of women in vintage soft-core poses and is printed on thin, slightly glossy paper. To make these images, Kruithof blew up small sections of saucy Polaroids and printed these blow-ups on US letter-sized paper. She then printed another random blow-up on the other side of the paper and hung the whole thing in the window, allowing the light to stream through and illuminate both and photographed this light-doubled image. “Bunkerocks,” has only three images, a short dip into black-and-white photos of what looks to be boulder-living — examples of homes made under, in, and around boulders — images that thunder the kind of solitude that Kruithof may have been seeking in her own remote bungalow. The chapter that feels the most analog still is "Ghostbondage." Printed on matte white paper, Kruithof has ferreted out almost two dozen bondage pictures in which she has cut out the sexualized figure bound by things such as neckties and ropes, leaving a white void, or a layered and abstracted image beneath. As Feuerhelm puts it, this cutting shows “you nothing of what you are trained to or desire to see” — the sexualized figure. Or, perhaps it shows that what we see now is “even further removed from the original objects (the loose parts shown on the analogue photos)”—“loose parts” that represent fleeting moments photographed, printed, collected, sorted, scanned, re-sorted, and presented in a highly subjective and appropriated way.

The Bungalow by Anouk Kruithof. Onomatopee, 2014.
The Bungalow by Anouk Kruithof. Onomatopee, 2014.

Kruithof is dealing absolutely in appropriation, specifically, a type of image-presentation. Any organized collection of images that has themes and categories synergistically becomes more than the sum of its parts. Themes and categories introduce a readable system into the collection’s architecture. Kruithof has appropriated this idea and modified it to what she calls “screen reality,” or a mode of storytelling that is unmoored from its original context and corresponding categorization. Her themes and categories are more about how we see images today and how we may so easily lose the thread of where images come from, symptomatic of the sheer volume of photographs we encounter. Kruithof’s “screen reality” sees images that flit by, are arranged in grids, are layered, or frenetically clicked and scrolled through one after the other, day after day. It’s natural to the vernacular — for hasn’t vernacular photography for over a century been gridded in albums, flipped through until something of note catches the eye, and stacked and shoved into boxes?

Kruithof has delivered the vernacular straight to the hard drive and dragged it back out in digits and jpeg markers. She swaps this digital form for book form and keeps the visual cues of the computer explicit. She layers on the gloss. She seeks the sexualized poses, re-imagined and diverted. She pinpoints the peculiarity. She overloads us with images. She sells us on the multitude. This is her new photography.—Sarah Bay Gachot


Sarah Bay Gachot is a writer and piñata-maker. She is currently at work on a book about the artist Robert Cumming and her publications include Aperture magazine, ArtSlant, The PhotoBook Review, The Daily Beast, and The Art Book Review. Her piñatas have been exhibited and then destroyed at the Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Machine Project, Human Resources LA, and Pomona College, among other places. She also co-hosts the monthly event Hyperience, a free, ongoing series of artist residencies and live collaborative events. Sarah lives in Los Angeles. Lylesfur.tumblr.com


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