Imagine you were an alien sent on a mission to planet earth. You know nothing about the planet and your fellow-aliens who do know, didn’t inform you about anything as to keep your first experience as pure as possible.

After traveling to earth, which may or may not have taken a long time, you step out of the UFO that brought you there and see earth for the first time. What do you see? Probably shapes and forms, maybe colors you’ve never seen before – assuming you have cone cells in your eyes making you able to perceive color. But you wouldn’t know what anything is.

Past Friday we experimented with pretending to be this alien and seeing earth for the first time. We stepped out of our UFO called “ArtEZ” and were sent into unknown territory to document everything we saw, especially the things that grow. But when given this assignment the first problem already occurred: when asking a human-pretending-to-be-an-alien to draw things that grow, we immediately focus on plants… Although that alien couldn’t possibly know what grows on earth and what doesn’t.

I don’t think it’s possible to hide the things we know in a corner of our mind where awe can’t reach them, spending our day without being able to acces that knowledge. Thus, I don’t think it’s possible to truly see something as if it were your first time.

So I drew plants an people, birds and trees, preoccupied with the idea that those are the things that grow. I experimented with drawing small plants quite large, with the idea that when drawn in that way, it could also be a big tree. But to me – or at least my human side – it looked like a big drawing of a small plant.

Than I got the idea to take some skepticism into the assignment. Skepticism says that certain knowledge is impossible. For example: if we see a garbage bin we can’t be absolutely certain that it is, indeed, a garbage bin. It could also be something entirely different like a flower. That person bending forward could also be a strange kind of tree.

Here are the sketches I made:

Focussing on the form of shadows
Garbage bin flower
Human tree

For now we left the slightly-less-unknown territory of earth and went back into our UFO. The next step in this documentation process will be to make big drawings using the sketches we made as starting points. I think it has the potential to become a surrealistic encyclopedia about earth.

I will keep you updated