Lomography

Images of a Vanishing World

Preface

This essay is about film photography (or ‘lomography,’ referring to a dreamlike state of old photo shoots). It is somewhat similar to the subject of my last book, Creative Theories of (Just About) Everything, and is a further exploration of the omnipresent creative energy in the universe. The subject of this book is material nature, which, on a deeper level, is a creative stream, the basic structure of which science cannot (yet) identify but can possibly be portrayed by the arts.

My way of exploring this pantheistic universe can be explained as a form of artistic research. Artistic as a writer and amateur photographer making possible worlds. Research because it is a form of inquiry to start to think in all new, different directions. Artistic research because inquiry is subordinated to art.

Every artist uses a certain medium as the materialisation of their creative power. I use the camera as a guide. Looking through the lens of my Olympus Pen EE-2, I see a world falling apart. Houses, roads, stations, schools, parks that will no longer exist in 50 years. By walking through my hometown of Arnhem and looking in the hidden alleys and neglected spaces, I sense the dust of the ruins of the past.

This is where the poet comes in. A willful writer like Proust, who looks at his Madeleine in Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way) and tries to enter the imaginative world that cannot be recorded by mechanical tools. A world of distance that can only be caught by literature or other more abstract artforms.

Words as an index to a world behind the dim curtain of what our senses can identify. Words like the brush of a painter, which start in the daily reality and end in an unknown reality. Words as the rhythm of a composition; the inner structure that directs the plot. Words, like the scenario of the moviemaker, which trigger the performance of sound and images.

The poet is the master of fiction. Fiction as a work of art refers to a possible world. Once we have acknowledged Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous definition of fiction as ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’ and Michel de Montaigne’s definition of inquiry as the ‘suspension of judgement,’ it becomes clear that fiction is a reality on another level. Fiction is an in-between (dreamlike) state in which things appear that may be unreal on first sight but can be real on a deeper level. The fact that we cannot see this world (yet) does not mean it does not exist.

So, looking through my camera lens, I search for an opening on the surface. I enter the hidden world of fiction. I want to experience the world of possibilities inside the transient sensory world. It is the immanent flow of creativity that makes a tree grow and a flower blossom. Some people define it as a metaphysical reality, some as a physical stream of creative energy. I prefer to imagine it as a yet undefined space, which in some way or other is connected to other spaces in the universe, waiting to be discovered.

My First Camera

I was bound to stay in my own biotope during the Covid-19 crisis. I worked at home more than usual. Sometimes I got tired and went out for a walk. I brought a little camera with me to give my walks a certain clarity. I bought it in a tiny shop of analogue cameras. Walking down the alleys, I felt triggered by the urban places and spaces with their rare surrealistic glance. The places with a kind of melancholy, which, since the beginning of this digital age, have been silently disappearing. The spectral places I sometimes knew but had often neglected passing by in a car or bus.

Walking is slow and offers a perfect free hand to shoot. Quite different from riding a bike. I bought a map of the city in a little travel bookshop where I was a regular visitor. The city plan gave me some orientation of what was north, south, east and west of Arnhem. I studied tracks and distances, even the names of the streets and avenues. I realised that I had travelled the world, from New York to Shanghai, but after almost fifteen years, I was not familiar with my own town. Emerson was right: travelling is redundant because the possible world is just around the corner.

Arnhem became for me what Berlin was for Alfred Döblin, what Paris was for Proust, and Prague was for Kafka, a space of partly conscious and partly unconscious travels. My starting point was our house, a nineteenth-century mansion in the medieval quarter of grain storage, in the middle of the northeastern part of the city, which had been a red-light district for many years. In the last ten years, the ‘windows’ were closed, giving the area an astonishing lift. It was the place where our children grew up.

Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Fernando Pessoa, they all experienced the secrets of the city by walking through the alleys of their hometown. In the same way, my daily walks became my flight in a dreamlike world, where facts and fiction entangled in an enigmatic way, functioning as a starting point for poetic thoughts. These walks became my daily dive under the surface of everyday life, entering a surrealistic world. Looking around, surfing in my mind, trying to get a grip on the fluid flow inside the world of appearances.

The Eye of the Beholder

Johan de Wittlaan. For the last three weeks, the sight in my left eye had been decreasing. I visited my family doctor. I told him that it was just as if I had something in my eye but there was no feeling of irritation. He looked into my eyes. ‘There is nothing wrong as far as I can see,’ he told me. ‘But according to what you tell me, it could be retinal detachment.’ He wrote a prescription for the specialist. When I walked out the door, I suddenly realised how vulnerable my eyes were, especially since I have also been half-deaf since my childhood. My gates to the world were my eyes and my ears; missing them would be a disaster.

‘Fortune is playing a game with me,’ I thought, remembering the doctor’s friendly voice. Some weeks ago, I had read a small book by the great art pedagogue John Berger called Cataract (2011), in which he described the deterioration of his sight and finally the operation to stop a further decrease. After the operation, he miraculously saw better than ever before. The stuffy grey he had seen for the last decade(s) suddenly became white again. What would happen for me? Improvement or deterioration? Seeing clearly again or ending as a pirate with a black eye patch on my left eye.

I had not realised how much my inquiry of the world around me depended on my sight. My eyes were, in fact, the handle of my camera: without them, it was difficult to take pictures. I had never thought about the double layer of a vanishing world: one in the object world and one of the subject world. Things could stay as they were, but once there was no ‘eye of the beholder,’ they in fact disappeared, just as if they had never existed. The flooded Atlantis could be in the object or subject world. The effect was the same: the world became hollow, like the world of the tragic Oedipus after stabbing out his eyes.

However, as long as I could use my sight, I would go out to capture the world. As long I could see it, the world existed. The prints that could fill my memory before the curtain eventually fell and I was left alone with the imprints of a lost world. A world that may or may not be lost for the next generation but certainly was for me as a foreshadowing of what it means to die. The pictures would demonstrate my lost existence as an amateur photographer.

Café-Biljart L’Amérique

Bloemstraat. I was walking home from the station, passing the old Café-Biljart L’Amérique, at the Bloemstraat. Bars like that have a special attraction to me. They traditionally draw subversive people: junkies, alcoholics, gamblers, sailors, criminals, prostitutes, people in the twilight zone. Most of these places have a hidden history. Every time I passed by this café, I wondered what was to be found behind the dingy curtains.

Some time ago, I found a little booklet in which the story of L’Amérique was revealed. A history about a lonely woman who lost her father, the owner of the bar, and since then the door had been closed. She left everything the way it was trying to ‘freeze’ time. Every week, she only put a vase of fresh flowers on the table, like on a grave of somebody sincerely loved and lost.

From that moment on, every time I walked through the alley, I imagined the sound of the trumpet of Chet Baker, who died on May 12, 1988, by falling out of the window in the Prins Hendrik Hotel in Amsterdam (Zeedijk). I recalled the images of Bruce Weber’s Let’s Get Lost. I heard Chet’s ‘My Funny Valentine,’ singing ‘Your looks are laughable, unphotographable…’

Some of us are looking at the stars…

On YouTube, Troy O’Young wrote a comment under the song: ‘Somehow Chet Baker’s version of this song reminds me of something Oscar Wilde said in his play Lady Windermere’s Fan: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.’ How right Troy was.

What was the secret of this beautiful phrase that made it so unforgettable? What was it that touched me? In the first part, Wilde explained that ‘we are all in the gutter.’ We were doomed, being human beings. Wilde’s own life story of promiscuity was a good example. De Profundis, the prison letter in which Wilde described his life in hell, was a perfect illustration.

The second part of the sentence touched me even deeper. Wilde explained in ‘some of us are looking at the stars’ how there was still hope in the gutter. Some people miss the ability to look through the clouds, but others can still see the stars. ‘I am completely penniless and absolutely homeless. Yet there are worse things in the world than that,’ he stated.

Chet Baker had—like Oscar Wilde—a strong relation to the hemisphere he was expelled from. His doubt and loneliness were not of man deprived of beauty and serenity, but of a man longing for an archaic world he once experienced. The sound of his trumpet was like the tears of Cain falling on the soil of the earth.

The star that nobody will ever touch again…

The story of the murky curtains of Café Biljart L’Amérique was like The Angel of History. Walter Benjamin’s ‘paradise lost’: the irretrievable memory that faded away with every step forward. The desperate attempt to stop the time, to lose the things so dearly loved. The little café in decay suddenly became a mausoleum. The image of a vanishing world.

On the Waterfront

Lauwersgracht. I was walking on the waterfront of the Musis Park, looking at the old willow tree bending calmly over the waterside, its yellow leaves like the entangled curly head of an aging Chinese philosopher. I sat down on the green garden bench, feeling the cold autumn wind. I saw a small yellow van normally used for distributing soup to homeless people who had been left behind.

Last summer, there was a huge protest in this park. The local council wanted to strip the old trees because they were old and sick. In fact, there was another interest: nature against culture. The trees in the backyard of the new concert hall were obstructing the sight lines of the building. A protest grew against cutting down eight perfectly healthy trees. ‘Save the Trees’ was written on the banners. The old trees of the Lauwersgracht Park were saved.

Green Lungs

Parks are one of the most precious relics of the old city. Amsterdam has the Vondel Park. The Hague has the Haagse Bos. Arnhem has the Sonsbeek Park, Park Angerenstein, Park Zijpendaal, Park Mariëndaal and Park Lauwersgracht. Places for jogging before work; for a walk with the pram in the morning; for a picnic at lunchtime; for reading a book in the afternoon. Places for a date with a lover in the evening.

The parks are spaces that still try to flee from the fingers of greedy project brokers, which, like the fingers of an octopus in the reefs, enter every small space, and, by doing so, govern our society. Space is scarce. Every square metre is money. It can be used for housing, for shops, for parking centres. ‘Why not use this “free space” for a new block of houses?’ they ask themselves.

Gentle and Easy Changes

In fact, the story of parks is the story of a community. They were meant to be the green lungs of the polluted cities of the nineteenth century. This explains why London is the capital of park cities. Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, St James’ Park, Greenwich Park, Kensington Gardens, Hampstead Heath. They were the air conditioning system of old Victorian England, where the industrial model we still have nowadays was first developed.

The nineteenth-century English writer Charles Dickens once wrote the famous words, ‘Nature gives to every time and season some beauty of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we scarcely mark their progress,’ thereby pointing the finger at the difference between gentle, organic nature and brutal, urban tumult.

Real Estate Developers

Walking through the park, I suddenly realised we are living in a high-tech world, something like Godard’s Alphaville. Apple, Google and Microsoft worked on augmented reality experiences, where we could actually feel, smell, taste something natural. How long would it take until the natural world has disappeared in the city? The urban side was turning more and more of it into a concrete, grey, climate-controlled shopping mall.

In this world, the old parks were in danger, as something superfluous belonging to the past. The smart real estate developer would not wait, which had already been the case on the shore of the river Rhine, where they had destroyed a unique floodplain area. The developers were already part of the local council, regulating the decision-making process to their advantage. They were just waiting to strike, like a cat with perfect timing, waiting for a moment of carelessness in its prey.

Remembrance of Things Past

Singel Park. I was sitting in my armchair, reading Marcel Proust, Á la Recherche du Temps Perdue (In Search of Time Lost). One of the greatest books ever written. In fact, I felt a bit like Proust, being at home most of the time thinking about the world outside. The world he closely described on the one hand and felt a great distance towards on the other, as if he went through his memories more than through reality.

The photographer is the bourgeois flâneur, walking around the city, looking for the grim spots, walking up a lane, looking behind some toppled trash cans, nearing a desolate house, trying to open a nailed-up window of a bankrupt shop. The rain in the autumn, the clochards on the riverside, the phantoms all around, they are the signs of a subconscious world. The world Charles Baudelaire describes in Les Fleurs du Mal.

The Remnants of the Past

In my adolescent years, Proust was my favourite reading experience. The series of seven books were (mainly) written after the First World War, between 1913 and 1927, the Interbellum. The time span in which the innocence of pre-modern life definitely ended. The world in which nature was turned upside down. Technological machinery—cars, phones, photography—took hold of society.

Virginia Woolf was a contemporary of Marcel Proust. Proust and Woolf transported me to my early childhood, living west of Arnhem near the thirteenth-century Doorwerth Castle. I suddenly felt like the protagonist in Woolf’s Orlando, the fictional biography of Vita Sackville-West. A non-binary youngster, thrown out of the aristocratic world of the Knole House, wandering through a changing world, trying to find a new identity in a new era.

An Old Box of Photos…

I noticed how Singel Park tickled the Belle Époque of my fortunate childhood. The city of my youth, with the majestic Musis Sacrum, the splendor of Riche National, the chic café-restaurant Royal, the elegant shops on the Jansbinnensingel. The labyrinth of pathways in the Park, with its golden fountain in the middle, leaving the trespasser a perfect view on the old Vesta building.

Somehow the (re)move to the Spijkerkwartier in Arnhem had triggered the reappearance of this graceful past. I turned over a suitcase full of long-lost photos. Walking around was like smelling, seeing, hearing this archaic world that I could no longer touch but still existed somewhere in the back of my mind as a phantom of a lost world.

Becoming an Object

Wagnerlaan. The moment I entered the hospital I felt like an object. I lost my sense of being the owner of my life. I felt like being part of an army of anonymous patients: man and woman, young and old, rich and poor. I felt like a number, the profile of a patient under the control of a medical care system.

A strict but kind nurse directed me: ‘Mr. Lutters, could you please come here for a moment!’ I recalled the instructive tone of my aunt, who was the director of a children’s home where we stayed when my parents went for a trip abroad. Somewhat later, I was sitting in the waiting room, followed by the first control room.

People Without Names

There was no introduction. After doing a test and putting some water into my eyes to widen my pupils, the assistant told me to wait for the doctor. I waited for twenty minutes. An Asian doctor, maybe twenty years younger than I was, called me. ‘Please, sit down,’ she asked politely. She explained that she was going to examine my eyes.

Roland Barthes stated in Camera Lucida: ‘Once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes,’ but of course he did not mean this doctor’s lens. However, this lens had the same power of change. Just by looking into my eye, the lens could change my life. A judgement of being ‘a potential seeing person’ or ‘a potential blind person’ without sight for the rest of my life.

The Spider in My Eye

The little spider in my eye could be the first step of an eye surgery, leaving me half blind, like I ended up half deaf after an operation on my right ear many years ago. Still, I was not afraid. Did I surrender? Or was it something else?

Ancient mythology was full of examples of blindness and wisdom as two sides of the same coin. Homer was blind. Tiresias was blind. Oedipus became blind. My body was falling apart, but this did not mean that life as such was deteriorating.

I felt like an old man, half blind, half deaf, captured by arthritis, occasionally plagued by seizures, but still happy. If I had to choose, I would rather stay a subject than becoming an object, as in a high-tech system, without any will of my own.

Every Wall is a Door

Utrechtseweg. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: ‘Every wall is a door.’ The pictures on the wall of the Museum Arnhem (especially the images by the painter Jan Mankes collected by Pierre Janssen) were the entrance to another world for me: the world of imagination. Every time I was in a museum I felt like Wendy in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, flying out of my window into the other space where everything was possible.

Museum Arnhem was closed due to a big renovation. I was visiting an exhibition by the American Photographer Alec Soth (1969) at FOAM in Amsterdam with the poetic title: I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating. Actually, I wasn’t familiar with the work of Soth. I was attracted by the mysterious title of this exhibition and decided to go.

The World of My Father…

When I entered the first room and sat down on the bench in the middle, I was shocked by seeing the picture on the wall of Dan-George (Dusseldorf 2018). I had never seen something like this before. To me, it seemed to be a photo of my father who passed away years ago. I never saw a man looking so much like him, standing in his bathrobe. But also, the dresser, the carpet, the CDs, the grey nude picture of Picasso, everything fitted so well. An unexpected glimpse of a vanished world!

The photo was vague. It reflected the past in the present. I imagined moving into the picture. It was like walking in the mist. I tried to find some orientation. I could not see the world clearly anymore. I was part of a gloomy world. Somewhat dim because of the interplay between the past and the present. I entered a twilight zone.

A Spanish Soul

I suddenly found myself in my parents’ house, which reminded me from a distance of a Spanish hacienda. The high ceilings with the wooden beams, the Persian carpets on the old marble floor, the black leather couch with mahogany edges, the large antique wardrobe in the salon, the heavy walnut table in the dining room, the study room with my grandfather’s desk.

My parents lived there during the last period of my father’s life. My father had an old Spanish soul. He loved the world of Cervantes; the paintings of Picasso; the poetry of Lorca; the guitar music and flamenco dancers of Andalusia. My mother once showed me the old photos of them sitting on a terrace in Madrid with a glass of wine, smoking a Caballero cigarette. ‘Madrid was the happiest moment of our life,’ she mumbled.

The Dark Side of Human Existence

The world of my father in his last years had some similarities with the last days of the deaf Goya working on his famous Black Paintings. Goya was traumatised by the Napoleonic wars. My father was a traumatised concentration camp victim of the Second World War. He always pictured the dark side of human of existence. Spectres of the past were hunting him.

The paradox was that this also made him a good psychiatrist. A thoughtful man of compassion. He was honoured by his patients. ‘When civilisation has disappeared, the only thing that is left is our ability to be compassionate, to make the pain somewhat bearable, knowing that it will never be cured,’ he once told me.

He saw ‘being a doctor’ as an art, which could only work by seeing every human being as a unique piece of art. The doctor tried to listen to the inner voice of the patient. My youngest brother told me lately that my father started his career as a school doctor, just around the corner from where we live nowadays, in the former red-light district of Arnhem. Coincidence does not exist.

Just Fading Away

Velperplein. The Martinuskerk is the last surviving Catholic church of the city of Arnhem, near the Velperplein (at the beginning of the Steenstraat). The neo-Gothic church was built at the end of the nineteenth century, a remarkable souvenir of a perishing world. I entered an empty Maria Chapel, on the left of the main portal.

A world without religion was a tragic event. I could recall the first moment I knew I was mortal. I realised that death was around the corner and it was just a matter of time before the heart would stop beating. Aging suddenly was—instead of progression—a step nearer to this fatal moment.

Perishing Objects

Objects were just like subjects, monuments of a vanishing world. In a world where the Christian religion was fading away, churches had become desolate places. They were sold, or even given away, as long as the next owner promised that they would not harm their unique monumental character. They became concert halls, museums, or houses for the rich.

The Eusebiuskerk was a good example. In the beginning, it was a Catholic church, and after the iconoclastic revolt, it became Protestant. In the Second World War, which substantially damaged Arnhem (located at a bridgehead over the Rhine), the church was almost completely destroyed. It was now a multifunctional cultural space.

Relic of a Past World

The older I got, the more I started longing for a world I could not see anymore. I started to feel like an old relic. The only thing that kept me upright was the conviction that in the end, time and space were relative, and underneath that there was a true interconnected world. A world that was One.

I started to realise that we are connected with Nature. The ancient Greek philosopher Strato of Lampsacus already remarked that the difference between God and Nature was a matter of semantics. A creative materialism, refined by the seventeenth-century Dutch-Portuguese philosopher Baruch Spinoza. The universe became a complex unity bound together as a meaningful system.

Mother Nature

Time passed by. Walking through the Maria chapel of the Martinuskerk, I recalled my visits to the old city of Chartres. The beautiful story of the Cathedral of Chartres that referred to God and Nature as one and the same. The idea of the circle of life, where life and death were intertwined.

Spots and Flashes

Emmastraat. Spots and flashes are the symptoms of an impairment of the retina. I found some pictures of this deterioration of the sight in case it appeared. Funnily enough, it just looked like the blood moon as a red balloon I had seen some time ago in the Emmastraat.

The blind eye from the outside looks like a moonlike image: the last glow of red light. The doorstep into an unknown world. I wondered why I did not feel afraid. Of course, I did not like to lose my sight, but there was even a bit of an attraction.

Other Eyes

Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian poet, sat in his old apartment in Buenos Aires. He had no obligations other than writing. Alberto Manguel, the bookshop keeper on the other side of the road, often spent the evening reading to the old writer. For the rest of the time, Borges was just alone with his thoughts.

Why were great writers—like Homer and Borges—blind bards? Was there a relation between losing the connection to the outside world, feeling the relation with the inner world, and being a profound writer? Was there an analogy between the blind old man and the baby?

Inner Light

Suppose we are all part of nature, coming out of this universal nature, and going back into it again. It would be a natural process that becoming older should bring about a limitation of the senses, looking inward instead of outward.

We created palaces and houses, we made music and images, we organised festivals and events, but why? As a substitute maybe for loosing connection with this inner nature? Art and design as an act of desperation? A medicine against boredom? An emptiness inside that looks for cheap excitement?

Contemplation

The blind eye is about the light inside more than the light outside. It reflects the inner world. It is the prism of the soul. There seems to be no reason to think that once the eye stops functioning, the inner light will vanish or even disappear. Aleph is the first character of the Hebrew bible. Borges’ Aleph can be seen in the dark: it is the point in space that covers all the other points.

The Water Pond

Parkstraat. The water under my retina will make me blind. I can imagine that before the world becomes dark, it will look more and more like an impressionist painting. Instead of the sharp chiaroscuro of Caravaggio, the vague and abstract brushstrokes of a painting by Monet. Slowly, my sight will vanish.

I looked in the pond in the garden between Parkstraat 96 and 98 and realised that the peaceful impressionist world had a kind of harmony. Everything was fluid. Nothing was separated. Everything was connected with each other.

Fluid World

I remembered the famous drawing of Emerson—a transparent eyeball—I saw during my visit to the Houghton Library (Harvard). The eye that was not reflecting but absorbing the meaning of life; the world beyond the pictures; the creative energy in Nature; the resonance of a sleepy mind.

I imagined what it meant to be part of this fluid world. A drop of rain that cannot be seen as a separate form anymore. Looking was listening. Staring became feeling. The water in the pool was calm and invisible… the silent course of contemplation.

Oneness

Walking was like a dream. The poetry of life by floating with the stream of consciousness. The music of the soul by following the lines of the melody. The fusion of painting by playing with water and pigment. The photography of action by dancing on the rhythm of the camera. The creative act opening the stony surface and integrating with the creative stream inside.

My daily promenades had become an aesthetic experience. Instead of reading a text from the outside… listening to a piece of music from a distance … an inside experience of being one with the environment. Something that finally did not need any explanation. Oscar Wilde rightfully stated that love had no other goal than itself. ‘The aim of love is to love: no more, and no less.’ Walking was like a lover’s tale: no more, no less.

My Last Camera

Photography is my way of exploring a hidden world of creativity. One is the object I want to catch; the other is the subject that pushes the button; the third is the camera—between the subject and object—with its mechanical possibilities and impossibilities.

The eye of the camera, which opens or closes, is the portal to the surrounding world. The aperture and shutter speed, together with the ISO factor of the film, defines the way it looks. I am shooting pictures of things that do not move. This means that I can use a long shutter speed and a high diaphragm.

The Will of the Camera

My Olympus Penn EE-2 is fully automatic. It has 72 shots on one role of film because it was designed in the sixties for the amateur photographer, the tourist that made snapshots. The advantage is the possibility to see and instantly shoot.

The images are just like the snapshots of the French author Georges Perec (noted by my son who is an independent artist / photographer). Perec devaluates the role of the subject and the object, and—like many surrealists—centred around the camera. The camera became a subject, like a human being, with its own willpower.

The Fusion of Man and Machine…

The photographer is just improvising, trying to portray the world around them, with their body, with their hand, with their touch, serving the will of the camera. They are like a jazz musician playing the piano, following the tempo, melody, rhythm and sound of the music.

The camera shoots whenever it feels like doing so. The sound of the camera, the rhythm of the lens, they seem to work completely autonomously. The best photographer is the one who can surrender to the will of the camera, as if they are completely part of the mechanism… just like the other way around.

Art is the creative fusion of man and machine. In the words of my favorite American photographer Walker Evans (a well-known admirer of the work of Emerson): ‘The secret of photography is the camera takes on the character and personality of the handler.’ The scientist reflects on the world. The artist absorbs it.

Click, click, click…

Postface

In my daily life, as a writer, researcher and educator, my main task is to explore new forms of research and education that fit the time we are living in. Artistic research as an interplay of learning, which dares to question the existing practices of schooling and tries to connect the artistic, the intellectual and social practice in a creative, informal ‘no school’ environment.

The creative stream is my subject of investigation. On the one hand, something that can be noticed in its outside phenomena. On the other hand, something that can be noticed as an inner creative stream that—as the essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson explains—is a (still) invisible vital stream.

In some earlier writings, I have tried to explain that true education for me is not ‘teaching’ but ‘searching.’ This means that every so-called teacher in art education should be an artist and an inquirer. The kind of person who takes up the challenge of exploring the unknown world. They are a ‘learner,’ learning from an experience and bringing it to the next level.

The school as the host should be a de-disciplined, multi-level and non-reductionist studio where this search can take place. Education transformed from an obligation into a pleasure, and as we all know, pleasure is the best way to perform at a high level. It is time to get out of the teaching prison system, defining education once again as a right instead of an obligation.

This essay is an attempt to demonstrate art-based research that will hopefully inspire the young reader. The student who is looking for examples—in this case, by means of the verbal and the visual—based on the quadrangle of intuition, perception, imagination and creation. The resonance of being part of a huge community of co-creators, of wandering ‘teachers’ and ‘learners,’ who are walking on the edge, trying to decode ‘the unthought known.’

Jeroen Lutters

Jeroen Lutters is professor of Art education as Critical Tactics (AeCT) at ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem. He is a visiting fellow at University of California and visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam. He is an independent curator, honorary professor of the Teachers College Windesheim, and visiting professor of No School CIBAP and SintLucas

Bibliography

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