In the context of an ongoing research programme the art cooperative Radical Reversibility organizes, in collaboration with Looiersgracht 60, the exhibition and symposium Seeing without a Seer
. The programme explores alternative ways of looking, thinking and image-making that evade the central position of the viewer. Seeing without a Seer
is set up as a cooperative, imaginative and speculative exercise to grasp what is at stake in the act of seeing.
In this (post)digital era new imaging technologies call the very concept of ‘being human’ into question. In which ways will ‘machine vision’ influence our worldview? What is 'seeing' and where is it located? Can we imagine how nonhumans like plants, stones or bacteria ‘see’ their surroundings?
Since the Renaissance, human visual perception has been transformed into an all-encompassing mathematical structure based on the laws of optics and Euclidean geometry. The development of linear perspective established a clear distinction between viewer and viewed, each situated on opposite sides of the ‘picture plane’. This seemingly objective system of representation also constituted the technological origin of lens-based devices such as photography and film cameras.
As an alternative to this model of representation, the exhibition embraces the concept of ‘seeing without a seer’ developed by the Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945). This idea describes a ‘place of nothingness’ which envelops not only the object seen, but also the seeing action and that in which both are established. ‘Seeing’ is not a subject's act defined in opposition to an object, but is an event prior to the distinction between the two.
The exhibition Seeing without a Seer
presents artistic strategies that playfully challenge visual representation in our post-digital era. Delving into the barely visible and the microscopic the participating artists introduce alternative concepts of seeing: polyperspectives, machine vision, a self-seeing world, or vision attributed to nonhuman agents. They attempt to reverse the construct of anthropocentric vision, aiming at a radical expansion, if not the full reformation, of our habitual ways of seeing.
The symposium presents lectures, visual case-studies and conversations by artists and researchers who will present works and ideas related to this subject matter. Artists: Anouk De Clercq (BE), Tom Callemin (BE), Marjolijn Dijkman (NL), Hans Gremmen (NL), Hiryczuk/ Van Oevelen (FR/NL), Toril Johannessen (NO), Taisuke Koyama (JP), Tuula Närhinen (FI), Juuso Noronkoski (FI), Martine Stig (NL), August Strindberg (SE), Mikko Rikala (FI)
Symposium contributors: Alena Alexandrova (BG/ NL), Basje Boer (NL), Marjolijn Dijkman (BE), Hiryczuk/ Van Oevelen (FR/ NL), Steven Humblet (BE), Toril Johannessen (NO), Adam Loughnane (CA), Tuula Närhinen (FI), Henk Oosterling (NL), Ali Shobeiri (IR), Martine Stig (NL), Frank van der Stok (NL).Alena Alexandrova
is a cultural theorist and an independent curator based in Amsterdam. She teaches at the Fine Arts and the Photography departments of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Currently she is writing a book titled Anarchic Infrastructures: Re-Casting the Archive, Displacing Chronologies
. She is the author of Breaking Resemblance: The Role of Religious Motifs in Contemporary Art
(Fordham University Press, 2017) and regularly contributes to art publications and catalogues. Alexandrova curated a sequence of exhibitions exploring the conceptual figure of “anarcheology” in the practices of present-day artists. She holds a doctoral degree from the University of Amsterdam.Basje Boer
(b. 1980) is a writer and journalist. Having been educated as a photographer, she currently focuses mainly on writing. She has published a collection of short stories, Kiestoon
(De Arbeiderspers, 2006) and a novel, Bermuda
(Nijgh & Van Ditmar, 2016). A new novel called Nulversie
will be published by Nijgh & Van Ditmar in January 2019. Boer writes essays on film and pop culture, mainly for De Groene Amsterdammer, and she has worked on several projects combining text and images, with visual artists including Ruth van Beek (at a residency at Kunsthuis SYB), Mariken Wessels and Marleen Sleeuwits.Marjolijn Dijkman
(b. 1978) is an artist based in Brussels. Her interdisciplinary works can be seen as a form of science-fiction; partly based on facts but brought into the realm of fiction, abstraction and speculation. Exhibitions include solo shows at The Munch Museum (with Toril Johannessen), Oslo (2018); ICA, London (2015); IKON Gallery Birmingham (2011), the Berkeley Art Museum (2010); and international group shows such as the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018), the 11th Shanghai Biennial (2016) and the 8th Sharjah Biennial (2007). Dijkman is co-founder of Enough Room for Space, Brussels.Hiryczuk/ Van Oevelen
is a collaboration between artists Elodie Hiryczuk (b. 1977) and Sjoerd van Oevelen (b. 1974). Both studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy (Amsterdam) and respectivey the Sandberg Institute (Amsterdam) and the AA Architectural Association (London). They experimentally explore how photography influences our understanding of the world. In addition to making art, they write and publish essays on their blog The Detached Gaze
and in magazines such as Philosophy of Photography (UK) and EXTRA Magazine (BE/NL). Hiryczuk/ Van Oevelen have had exhibitions at Unseen Amsterdam (2017); Bradwolff Projects, Amsterdam (2016); DordtYart, Dordrecht (2013) and Contemporary Istanbul (2012). They are currently tutors at AKI ArtEZ Academy of Art and Design, Enschede. Hiryczuk and Van Oevelen are co-founders of Radical Reversibility.Steven Humblet
(b. 1970) is a writer and art critic with a focus on photography. He studied philosophy and Social and Cultural Anthropology at the KU Leuven (BE). He regularly writes for magazines like De Witte Raaf, DW B, Ons Erfdeel, Etcetera, EXTRA Magazine and Camera Austria. Humblet is member of Thinking Tools,
a research group at the University of Antwerp that focusses on questions like ‘how does ‘the photographic’ manifests itself in contemporary art and photography.Toril Johannessen
(b. 1978) is an artist based in Tromsø (NO). Ways of seeing — and not seeing — are recurring themes in Johannessen’s artistic practice. Combining historical records with fiction and her own investigations, her works often contain elements of storytelling in visual or written form. Exhibitions include solo shows at The Munch Museum (with Marjolijn Dijkman), Oslo (2018); AroS, Aarhus (2017); and Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo (2016) and international group shows such as the 13th Dak’Art Bienniale de Dakar (2018); the 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013) and Documenta 13 (2012).Henk Oosterling
(b. 1952) is a philosopher and a strategic advisor. He studied philosophy, linguistics and Japanese in Leiden and Rotterdam. Since 1985 he has taught courses in dialectic philosophy, French ‘philosophy of difference’ and intercultural philosophy and has been Associate Professor since 2001. He is the Secretary of the Dutch-Flemish Union for Intercultural Philosophy, coordinator of the Centre for Philosophy and Arts, and chairman of the Dutch Aesthetics Federation. He is the initiator of several cultural and social projects, including Rotterdam Skill City. His latest book ‘Waar geen wil is, is een weg’ published in 2016, proposes to look anew at the differences and similarities between Asian and Western thought.Martine Stig
(b. 1972) is an artist based in Amsterdam. She studied photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Art (The Hague) and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. Photography itself is the locus of Martine Stig’s work. The voyeuristic act: photography (verb) and the autonomic product: photo (noun). Whilst using photography she researches the role of the medium in the perception of reality. Her most recent book Noir
was released in November 2016 (Fw: books, Amsterdam). Her work has been shown at a.o. Unseen Festival, Amsterdam (2017); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2015) and Aperture Foundation, NYC (2015). She is currently tutor at the Master Institute AKV St. Joost, Den Bosch and researcher at Caradt, Centre of Applied Research for Art, Design and Technology at Avans University of Applied Sciences, Breda. Stig is co-founder of Radical Reversibility.Adam Loughnane
is lecturer in Philosophy at University College Cork and co-director of the Irish Institute of Japanese Studies. His research and teaching centre on the phenomenological and aesthetic traditions of Europe and Asia. Focusing mostly on French and Japanese philosophies, Adam explores themes relating to phenomenological accounts of motion, perception, and expression, intercultural philosophical methodology, and non-theistic conceptions of faith. He has recently completed a book, "Nishida and Merleau-Ponty: Artistic Expression as 'Motor-Perceptual faith'" (SUNY Press, 2019).Tuula Närhinen
(b. 1967) is a visual artist based in Helsinki (FI). Her works explore the pictorial agency of natural phenomena such as water and wind. Re-adapting instruments derived from natural sciences, Närhinen has developed methods for letting trees trace the shape of wind on their branches and found techniques that enable the waves of the sea to inscribe themselves on paper. Närhinen holds a Doctorate of Fine Arts (DFA) from the University of the Arts Helsinki. She is a graduate of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts (MFA), and the Helsinki University of Technology (M. Sc. in Architecture).Ali Shobeiri
(b. 1984) is a visual culture theorist. He is currently Assistant Professor of Photography at Leiden University and lecturer of Cultural Studies at Radboud University of Nijmegen. Shobeiri aspires to propose the notion of ‘placial aesthetic’ through the triangulation of the fields of philosophy, photography and geography. He functioned as a guest editor for the online journal Depth of Field (scherptediepte.eu) at Leiden University, and co-organized the international conference Animation and Memory
at Radboud University (2017).Frank van der Stok
(b. 1967) is a curator, editor and intermediary for artists, institutions and academies. He also works as an editor and producer of artists’ books. Van der Stok studied art history in Leiden. He was a staff member at Fotomania Gallery, Rotterdam (1989-2000). Van der Stok curated the show Lest we Forget
at Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg (2015)
and the festival To be Continued
for the Dutch Doc Days at Central Museum, Utrecht (2011).
He initiated the independent research-programme The Past in the Present,
which culminated in the show and publication Questioning History
(2009). Van der Stok is co-founder of Radical Reversibility.
The symposium will present lectures, visual case-studies and conversations by artists and researchers around the concept ‘seeing without a seer’ by Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870 – 1945).Programme
|09.00||Doors open / Coffee|
| ||Welcome and introduction by RR|
| || |
| ||Lecture by Henk Oosterling|
| ||Visual case study by Hiryczuk/ Van Oevelen|
| ||Lecture by Adam Loughnane|
| ||Frank van der Stok in conversation with Toril Johannessen and Marjolijn Dijkman|
| || |
| || |
| ||Visual case study by Alena Alexandrova|
| ||Visual case study by Tuula Närhinen|
| ||Basje Boer in conversation with Martine Stig|
| || |
|15.00||Introduction open space sessions|
| ||Open space session I|
| ||Open space session II|
| ||Conclusions open space sessions|
| ||Resume of the day: Ali Shobeiri|
| || |