Seeing without a Seer

Group Exhibition

20.09–30.09.2018: Group exhibition, Radical Reversibility, Amsterdam, NL

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. What is ‘seeing’ and where is it located when we take non-human agencies into account? Can we, for instance, imagine how plants or stones ‘see’ their surroundings? In which ways could ‘machine vision’ influence our worldview?Ever since the Renaissance visual perception has been transformed into an all encompassing mathematical structure based on the scientific laws of optics and Euclidean geometry. The discovery of linear perspective and the invention of the point of view accorded a central place to the beholder. Notions such as ‘eye level’, ‘viewpoint’ and ‘vanishing point’ established a clear distinction between viewer and viewed, each situated at opposite sides of the ‘picture plane’. This seemingly objective system of representation did not only constitute lens-based technology but it also shaped our understanding of and interaction with visual media like photography, video and film.

As an alternative to this system of representation Radical Reversibility embraces the concept ‘seeing without a seer’ by 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 focusses on counter strategies to our habits of visual representation. The participating artists delve into the barely visible and the microscopic and analyse machine vision and image-making in a post-digital era. Their works explore ideas about a ‘self-seeing world’ and question the anthropocentric character of the camera as a pure registration tool and a technical extension of the human sensorium. The symposium presents lectures, visual case-studies and conversations by artists and researchers that will present works and ideas related to this subject matter.

Artists: Anouk de Clercq, Tom Callemin, Marjolijn Dijkman, Hans Gremmen, Hiryczuk / Van Oevelen, Toril Johannessen, Taisuke Koyama, Tuula Närhinen, Juuso Noronkoski, Martine Stig , August Strindberg, Mikko Rikala

Speakers: Alena Alexandrova, Basje Boer, Marjolijn Dijkman, Hiryczuk/ Van Oevelen, Steven Humblet, Toril Johannessen, Adam Loughnane, Tuula Närhinen, Henk Oosterling, Ali Shobeiri, Martine Stig, Frank van der Stok, Agnieszka Wolodzko

Vernissage: September 19 from  17 – 20 h
Symposium: September 21 from  09 – 17 h
Unseen Open Gallery Night: September 22 from 20 – 22 h

Opening hours
September 20 – 23:   12 – 20 h
September 26 – 30:   12 – 20 h

More information



*) From: Adam Loughnane, “Nishida and Merleau-Ponty”, European Journal of Japanese Philosophy I (2016)

The exhibition and the symposium are made possible by the generous support of:

AFK Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Mondriaan Fund, Looiersgracht 60, Norwegian Embassy, Frame Visual Art Finland, Caradt Avans, AKI ArtEZ, Fonds Kwadraat, Gilles Hondius Foundation, Unseen



Image: Fragment of a still from Reclaiming Vision, Marjolijn Dijkman and Toril Johannessen, 2018