CROPS / SMITHONIAN'S PRESS RELEASE (EN)
Best known for bird’s-eye-view landscape photography, Gerco de Ruijter (Dutch, b. Vianen, 1961; lives and works in Rotterdam) mined Google Earth for the images he montaged into his stop-frame animation “CROPS” (2012). The hypnotic four-minute video work opens in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Black Box space Aug. 12. De Ruijter’s still photography has been distinguished by the various devices he has deployed to launch his camera aloft, including an elongated fishing rod, which he customized with a timer, and a kite, which he operated by transmitter. The resulting vistas, devoid of both people and horizon lines, make actual locations read as simultaneously “real” and abstract, a perspective also pursued in “CROPS.” Where in the past de Ruijter has organized his photographs into series by carefully selecting from among the pictures shot by his own lens, for “CROPS” he repurposed “found” views recorded by aerial cameras for Google Earth. Each image is of one of the countless center-pivot irrigation plots that dot the American southwest. These de Ruijter cropped and oriented to fit a fixed geometric template—a circle circumscribed within a square—then sequenced into an animation. More than 1,000 pictures make up the rush of imagery, the colors shifting with the seasons and the types of crops planted. The irrigation machinery appears as a clocklike “hand,” and its clockwise movement segments the plots into various swaths. The diversity of effects produced within a rigidly prescribed format is emphasized with a shuffling, stuttering electronic score by Michel Banabila. Outside the “CROPS” installation hangs “Contact Sheet #2 (time)” (2012), de Ruijter’s inkjet print of a grid devised from select still frames from the video. De Ruijter has said, “What is similar in my work and that of abstract geometrical painters is foremost that we do not dish up a story or a deeper meaning. The viewer sees nothing but the image itself.” At the same time, the artist is extending the tradition of Dutch landscape painting by training his eye on the natural world not as wilderness but as it is cultivated by human endeavor.