• Cultural and Creative Industries
  • Situated Art and Design
  • Biobased Art and Design
  • All


Unlearning Photography

Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

Unlearning Photography is a research in which living photography is investigated: a living image that, by means of photosynthesis, transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen.

A cyanobacteria culture gets a few drops of my blood. I think about the violence of this gesture and about contamination.
Colour and form experiment with wet (chemical) cyanotype developing processes.
Experimental setup with cyanobacteria in petri dishes, transparent sheet and a 200W LED growth light.
Organic photography experiment with emulsion made from cyanobacteria.

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

Principle investigator
Risk Hazekamp

Other researchers involved
John van der Werf

Elvin Karana

Avans University of Applied Sciences

‘It is through the “not-knowing” that a stimulating and caring environment can be created to confidently share vulnerability.’

Risk Hazekamp is a researcher within the Biobased Art and Design research group and a tutor for the Art & Research study programme at St. Joost School of Art & Design. 

Risk Hazekamp arrow

Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

The research group Biobased Art and Design capitalises on the role of artistic practice in unlocking the unique potentials of living organisms for everyday materials and communicating these to a broader public. In doing so, the group aims to instigate and accelerate our widespread understanding, further development and usage of such materials. The group’s research approach encourages tangible interactions with the living organisms, such as algae, fungi, plants and bacteria, to explore and understand their unique qualities and constraints through diverse technical and creative methods taking artists, designers and scientists as equal and active partners in the material creation.

Read more arrow
All projects arrow

Cookies are used to ensure that you're given the best experiences on this website.


Thank you for your subscription! Please check your email inbox to confirm.