MINI SYMPOSIUM July 8th Ellen de Bruijne projects
Saccadic Sightings: Einstein & Bohr
, Rune Peitersen

Initiated in 2008, Saccadic Sightings began as a study of visual perception. Using a Mobile Eye, a scientific eye tracking device, Peitersen was able to film his field of view while simultaneously capturing the exploratory movements of his eye. He was interested in the ‘raw’ visual input captured by the retina before it was interpreted and processed into experience by the brain. Underlying this project were questions raised by quantum mechanics concerning e.g. the Uncertainty Principle and whether or not it is possible to speak of a world separate from our observation of it.

During his research Peitersen started looking into the way in which we construct our reality. Besides the physiological and psychological aspects of perception, scientific paradigms determine our view of the world. Peitersen became intrigued by how outdated but popular paradigms have developed into inflexible dogmas. The materialistic dualism of Rene Descartes, which presupposes a strict division of mind and matter, is such a dogma, which although discredited decennia ago by quantum physics, by thinkers such as Einstein and Bohr and more recently by neurological research, still remains the most commonly accepted and widely held world view. This raises the questions of why such a world view persists and what can be done to substitute it with a more adequate construction. Furthermore, Peitersen became convinced that it is art which shapes our understanding of reality. By formulating questions about perception, by visualizing conceptual constructions and making these constructions manifest in the world, art plays a much more fundamental part in the construction of our collective reality than we usually realize.

The issues raised will be the starting point of a public discussion in the gallery on Thursday July 8th in which Robert Zwijnenberg (Prof. Art history, University of Leiden and founding Director of The Arts & Genomics Centre), André Klukhuhn (scientist and philosopher), Saskia Monshouwer (curator and anthropologist), Mariska van den Berg (curator SKOR), Voebe de Gruyter (artist), Huib Haye van der Werf (curator NAi), Anne Kienhuis (postdoc researcher at RIVM), Tamuna Chabashvili and Adi Hollander (artists, Laura Schuster (phd student UvA, Imagined Futures research group) and others will participate.

Click here for biographical information of the speakers and participants.


The questions/statements I wish to reflect upon are:

–          Why does the Cartesian construction of reality still exert so much influence and what are the consequences thereof for how we think about science and art?

–          What would it take to destabilize this worldview and replace it with another, more adequate construction?

–          Which part might art play in this? Is it not so that art in particular is capable of shaping our idea about reality? And possibly functions as a precursor to the constructions as they are formulated by science and technology?

–          And, if so, which role does science play within the artistic domain. What sort of transformations are possible?


19.30 Doors open

20.00 Mariska van den Berg (freelance curator | editor) gives a brief introduction.


Rune reflects upon dualism as perpetuated by the movies The Matrix and Avatar.

Click here for the accompanying powerpoint presentation.

Rune Peitersen – The Cartesian Theatre of The Matrix and Avatar from Rune Peitersen on Vimeo.

20.15-21.30 The speakers: André Klukhuhn

The joint evolution of consciousness and space“(…) concerning the construction of the world by our consciousness. The people of antiquity, the middle ages, and of the renaissance experienced the world differently from us.” According to Klukhuhn, our (developing) consciousness and our experience of space and time are closely connected (Kant supplemented by Darwin).

Andre Klukhuhn – The joint evolution of consciousness and space from Rune Peitersen on Vimeo.

In her weekly column in the Dutch NRC Handelsblad, Maria Barnas contemplates the difficulties of grasping Einstein’s theory of relativity and how Andre Klukhuhn’s lecture at the minisymposium made her come closer to an understanding of the fourth dimension. Read it here: Aanhikken (Dutch)

Saskia Monshouwer

Saskia Monshouwer will present her recent essay Kunst, context, wetenschap.Mogelijke consequenties van het denken (over zien) (Art, context, science. (Over looking) the possible consequences for thinking) , written for the occasion. During this evening’s discussion Monshouwer will examine the following position: Due to the relation between both society and the public, art is able to mediate between science and society, and possibly destabilize an accepted worldview.

Saskia Monshouwer – Kunst, context, wetenschap. Mogelijke consequenties van het denken (over zien) from Rune Peitersen on Vimeo.

Rune Peitersen

Contact – Art as the Outer Limits of the Universe – what is the function of art? Is art capable of shaping our idea about reality? And does it function as a precursor to the construction of reality?

Click here for a pdf of the text.

Rune Peitersen – Contact-Art as the Outer Limits of the Universe from Rune Peitersen on Vimeo.

Robert Zwijnenberg

Robert Zwijnenberg brings together art, humanities en science so that they may learn from each other. According to Zwijnenberg, this interaction can produce new forms of art as well as new theories and methodologies. This evening he will reflect upon the role of science within the artistic domain: What sort of transformations are possible?

Robert Zwijnenberg from Rune Peitersen on Vimeo.

21.30 – 23.00

The guests and public are involved in the discussion. Moderated by Mariska and Rune.

Texts ‘Einstein & Bohr‘ and ‘Contact – Art as the outer limits of the Universe

Ellen de Bruijne Projects
Rozengracht 207 A
1016 LZ Amsterdam,
The Netherlands


The Mini Symposium was made possible with the support of The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture.

Rune Peitersen