Speakers / artists
Art and sensorial imagination of the unseen
Our relationships with the more-than-human world are always somewhat incomplete as they are partially based on our state of awareness of what reaches us through our doors of perception. Only a limited part of what is “out there” in front of us, registers in our brain. We tend to only notice what we consider worthwhile paying attention to. This “becoming aware” of presences of nonhuman others shifts in time, as we continuously move our bodies through space. Goethe was one of the first in the Western world who understood that our “exact sensorial perception” of natural phenomena, needs to be complemented by “’exact sensorial imagination”. Moreover, we should appreciate understandings stemming from our intuition, to be able to relate more fully also to what is not there, or not yet there. Perhaps, such an artful empiricism is all the more relevant and urgent in our time and age, to develop and further nourish a sense of connection with the “underworld” – the myriad life forms and vibrant non-living matter below our feet – indeed, the very focus of this Biotoopia seminar.
In my presentation I will look into ways in which art can help us relate to the unseen, the unfolding, the emergent, so that our understandings of our shared lifeworld become not only richer, deeper layered, but also more appreciative of its infinite complexity.
Jan van Boeckel is Professor Art & Sustainability at Research Centre Art & Society of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, The Netherlands. He started his career as a cultural anthropologist. With the passing of time, Jan increasingly focused his attention on both his own developing artistic practice and on the teaching of art – two orientations that eventually converged into the quality of artist-educator. Jan also has ample experience in conducting research projects on the cutting edge of art and sustainability. Specializing himself in the new field of arts-based environmental education, he received his degree as Doctor of Arts in arts education at Aalto University, Helsinki, in 2013. In the past years he has worked in several Northern countries – among which Iceland, Sweden, Estonia and Finland. Now, at Hanze UAS in Groningen, Jan’s primary research interest is in how art can help us face the great challenges of our time, of which the ecological crisis arguably is the most pressing.