In Anouk Kruithof's (b. 1981, The Netherlands) new book The Bungalow, she explores what she perceives as photography's new relationship with reality as we continue to create art in the digital age. Working from an extensive collection of vernacular photographs provided by collaborator Brad Feuerhelm, Kruithof selected 500 images to use for the book, which she then edited and reworked. Taking screenshots of her computer while she was working with the images, she places the emphasis on her working process. In some cases the photographs are barely legible, while in others, she has edited out essential objects. The resulting book may sometimes come across as a little random due to the extensive reworking of the images, but in essence is a visual wonderland that focuses on the medium of photography as it moves into an age in which digital editing has almost become more important than the act of taking the image itself.
For the project, Kruithof locked herself away in a rented bungalow to work, the book The Bungalow essentially serving as evidence of her exploration of ideas in this line of thought. It is divided into five chapters, each using a different strategy to alter the reality of the photograph. In the chapter named Ghostbondage, she cuts the women out from a series of bondage photographs, leaving only an empty white silhouette where their figures had been. In the chapter Screen Reality, she ignores the notion of printed matter, and emphasises its digital reality by showing her screens in mid-process as she manipulates the photographs, with Photoshop gridlines and resizing frames still visible in the result. Kruithof focuses on the process of digitally working on the photographs, and not on the photographs themselves. The photographs are detached from their initial meaning and become part of a new screen reality that she has created. The importance of the process is also emphasised through the e-mail exchanges between Kruithof and Feuerhelm, featured throughout the book in which they mostly share their excitement, for example: "The layering and breakdown of images and body is fucking genius". In this way, Kruithof takes the viewer by the hand, to try to explain what she is doing and why.
The 'why' is covered in the introduction and 'outroduction' by the collaborators. Kruithof explains in the introduction that photographs have become their own 'screen reality', and no longer are physical objects that represent reality. This 'screen reality' is encapsulated within a rectangle on a screen. The Bungalow highlights this new screen reality by creating an entirely new body of work through digital editing. Kruithof questions the new reality that has been brought about by the digital age, as she explains that we rely exclusively on our sense of sight if we focus too much on screen reality. In viewing these images that can be barely understood visually, readers are able to realise the limits of relying only on the visual.
The Bungalow is a bit of a visual rollercoaster, and as such is very intriguing. As the viewer, you, quite literally, piece together the idea behind the book as you flip through the images. Though potentially confusing at first, the introduction and endnote explain some of the more inexplicable aspects of the book. The Bungalow is an odd and fun book of images, while also more seriously asking the viewer to understand and question the development of photography as the digital age takes over.
The Bungalow is available from Onomatopee.