Pixel Stress comprises a publication as well as an installation from a public intervention that Kruithof staged in New York City’s financial district. On the 18th of April, 2013 she and two assistants went to Wall Street and built a temporary installation of 14 framed prints of different sizes on the edge of the city’s pavement. The prints looked like pixilated monochromes, but were in fact illustrations blown up to a maximum size (3200% in Photoshop) of stock images of men and women in suits that Kruithof found through a Google search of the word: stress. Throughout the performance, Kruithof encouraged pedestrians to look at and talk about the works, and subsequently asked if the ones involved would like to buy a print.
Since Kruithof was not allowed to conduct monetary transactions, she gave the prints away for free, once a participant had named a price – and thereby established an “imaginary sale.” Value is therefore not created through the well-established system of commercial exchange, but through human interaction, artistic creation and generosity – an idea that Kruithof further develops in her unusual publication. Smooth high gloss paper reproduces the tiny thumbnails of the original internet images as well as their pixilated close ups. Folded into a loose binder that is held together by an elastic band, the book also contains a stapled paper insert illustrating Kruithof’s Wall Street intervention through a sales report, texts, hand cut photomontages and documentary photographs of her interaction with the business men. With gentle humor, her images dissect not only the people, but also their socially established reputation for being powerful and self-assured. By the means of photography, Kruithof suggests that expertise (whether in the fields of art, business or trade) is not a fixed, immutable quality, but a construct that subject to change and questioning, the moment one is confronted with something unexpected.