Outnumbered, a (moving) picture


The Belgian artist Jasper Rigole has dedicated his research to the concepts of authenticity, objectivity, falsification, and the special role that they play in relation to the processes of historization and, more generally, to memory, both individual and group. Following this inspiration, in 2005 he started the project The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories (IICADOM): a series of films, documentaries and installations in which he re-uses, through rather heterogeneous techniques, the materials collected in its growing archive of photos and movies found in flea markets and second-hand stores. A typical example of his way of working is offered by the audiovisual installation OUTNUMBERED , in which he creates a narrative that proceeds in the typical way of scientific documentaries: here we have a found object, an old photograph of a school class. Rigole utilizes the technique of pan and scan (a classic when using both still and moving images) to synchronize the framing of the face of each student and the narrating voice which explains who such persons are (they all apparently have become celebrities) and what relationship binds them together. The second part of the video reveals that, in fact, what we have observed is the product of a machine that slides an old panoramic photo of 1936, closer or further away from the lens. It turns out that the entire system, including the narrator, is controlled by a computer that draws randomly from a database of 888 biographies and that, in order to create a plausible narrative, the software created by the Belgian artist links the biographies with similar identifying metadata. It is these similarities which make credible the deception crafted by Rigole and which are evidence of the mystifying drift inherent in attempts to reduce history to a series of anecdotes.

Vito Campanelli