TOM HOWELLS / CROPS
The Rotterdam-based photo-artist Gerco de Ruijter was born in Vianen, The Netherlands. His landscape photography is typified by its lofty bird’s eye view style—attained via various devices, including “an elongated fishing rod, which he customized with a timer, and a kite, which he operated by transmitter”— rendering his chosen landscapes as abstract expanses of meditative texture and colour.
The artist’s 2012 work CROPS—first exhibited at Washington DC’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Black Box space in 2013—shares this perspective, though skews the source material slightly by appropriating existing images of spherical irrigation plots—created by a mechanical arm rotating around a fixed, central base—in the American southwest from Google Earth. Over 1,000 images were formatted to fit a standardised geometric template by the artist, who then sequenced them into a stop-motion animation, creating a visual effect sitting simultaneously between watching a vinyl record spin at hyper speed, “the jittery motion of Steamboat Willie–era cartoons”, and the intensely kinetic 16mm film work of Paul Clipson.
The results is a breathtaking, borderline hypnotic, three minute rush of fluttering visual information, with the machinery —unrecognisable from the height—repositioned as a clockwise moving “hand”. This becomes the only aesthetic constant within the ‘film’—asides from the rigid geometric consistency of the plots themselves—the visually grainy intricacies of the crops themselves shifting wildly throughout and affording a beautiful, painterly aura to the piece — appropriate given De Ruijter’s belief that “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.”
Text by Tom Howells for the book Experimental Eating, published by Black Dog Publishing, London (2014)