Unlearning Photography is a research in which living photography is investigated: a living image that, by means of photosynthesis, transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Confronted with the toxicity of analogue photography, researcher Risk Hazekamp started experimenting with photo-sensitive emulsions made from organic materials, with a focus on cyanobacteria. This single-celled organism changed the Earth around 2.3 billion years ago. As the first forms of life to produce oxygen in our atmosphere, cyanobacteria could be considered our oldest ancestor.
Cyanobacteria are often misnamed as blue-green algae, causing confusion about their toxicity. As a result, they are seen as a threat, whereas we humans would not be here if it were not for the cyanobacteria. The way cyanobacteria turned from a source of life into something toxic could provide profound insights into the way we deal with our environment and with each other.
Through listening to and taking care of our most ancient ancestor, this research connects the praxis of decolonial thinking, acting with ecological questions, and doing biobased research. In this way, the wisdom of cyanobacteria is linked to the artistic practice of the researcher.
Researcher Risk Hazekamp strives for a living organic photographic process that continuously converts carbon dioxide into oxygen, showing us both the ecological and the socio-political stasis of our contemporary colonial world: a living work of art in which transformation is the image, and the result is always in progress.
Ongoing research, started September 2020
Other researchers involved
John van der Werf
Avans University of Applied Sciences