Noyce Conference Room
  US Mountain Time
Jan Gerrit Schuurman

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Abstract: Sisyphus has been punished by the Olympian deities to repeatedly push a boulder up a mountain, day in and day out. Albert Camus encourages us to envision Sisyphus from an existential angle (Le Mythe de Sisyphe, 1942). A universe that lacks the interference of Gods is not sterile or pointless. In a world lacking external references, life must propel itself: each atom, mineral, all nucleic acids, proteins, and every breath is imbued with night and day. The value of rolling the stone must lie in every step, every turn, and every gasp.

My artwork does not aim to instruct or educate; it neither presents itself as abstract or figurative. It prioritises sensation over perception, emphasising the qualities of experience over objects. In our secular era, life may appear devoid of meaning, with humans striving to impose order on existence and seeking answers to unanswerable questions without success.

If knowledge could be anticipated, science would be unnecessary. Notably, research is a perpetual amalgamation of imagination and perception, with no prospect of reaching certitude. Each of my drawings and paintings is a renewed effort to extend oneself, to differentiate novel qualities. To rebel against conformity, to persist without fate—to disrupt the cycle, any cycle.

There is always more to do, earlier interpretations to be challenged by fresh ways of seeing, sensing and observing, where the world remains logically flat, irrespective of how high we climb Mount Sisyphus—no matter how far we explore, think, experiment or search.

My art aims to show that we are in a blessed state in a world without foundations. I hope to enchant my audience through the eye, one of our astonishing senses, and convey the complexity of existence.

The presentation consists of 3 parts:

1. Part 1: Why I became an artist

2. Part 2: Do I have a philosophy?

3. Part 3: Artful science: a visual argument regarding perspective, understanding statistical information and prolepsis

Albert Camus (1942), Le Mythe de Sisyphe, éditions Gallimard.


Jan Gerrit SchuurmanJan Gerrit SchuurmanArtist & Affiliate of the Technical University Berlin
SFI Host: 
Mirta Galesic

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