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Paulien Oltheten Walk on a line, the idea to deviate from it, for example in a fi lm. Photos from Japan and my archive

NAi Publishers

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16


Mind 6 Transparent 26 Lines, folds and wrinkles 36 Groups and rows 62 Postitions 80 Posture 98 Parallel 116 Light 130 Contact 140 Overlap 152 Interspaces 156 Concave and convex 172 High and low 180 Tangible objects 188 Manners 204 Tracks and traces 228

In Japan I realized that my view of the world was directed by my archive. How else could it be that the sight of a man with an envelope on his lap in the park in Yokohama stimulated me to ask him to drape his jacket over the envelope? Why did I want him to do this? Why did I put my shame aside and ask him to do it? Why was I so happy to see the self-created image of the jacket-over-the-envelope in front of me and to push the button of my camera to capture it forever? Because in a fl ash I saw similar situations in the past. Photos, video fragments, sketches, pencil lines, sentences and separate words. Filed on hard disks, in cupboards, drawers, notebooks, sketchbooks and on piles. This new image was a kind of confi rmation of what I already knew, but different, newer, a step further. The photos of Japan and a selection of images from my archive are classifi ed in this book according to words that come to mind when I walk around on the streets with my camera. These words combine or create lines from a photo to a sentence, fi lm still or drawing. You don’t need to follow these lines. I don’t do so myself. Actually, I always wander away, because this creates more possibilities. Follow your own route. Walk on a line. Or deviate from it. Paulien Oltheten






I fi lmed a man who was reading as he walked. This way I captured the world that was passing him by.


The loosely held pages tremble and move up and down. Through the motion of the subway but also through the natural trembling of the man’s hand and arm. Show the resemblance between pages and thoughts: fi rst fi lm the loose pages and then move the camera up to his head. Then keep the camera still and focus on his forehead.

sketchbook 1, page 63

Reading people, each in their own world. A reading woman suddenly looks up, right into the camera. She keeps on looking that way for a long time. Then she goes on reading.

sketchbook 6, page 27

You can think up a lot of drama to go with this.

sketchbook 6, page 132

Curled up like a thought Curling thought Uncurling thought Curl thought Thought curl Curled up tightly Curled up loosely Nice to show on the outside what’s going on inside the head.

This woman is thinking of something else.


A man says to her: ‘The pieces of paper point out the most signifi cant parts. You should remember them!’




Make portraits on the street of employees during their lunchtime. See if the expressions on the faces resemble the pattern of the strings around their neck.

sketchbook 6, page 73

Kites with paper-thin transparent strings move slowly up and down. People follow the movements of the kites, which makes their heads move up and down in an even slower tempo (nice dynamics).

sketchbook 6, page 74


He was resting with his head against the wooden post, deep in thought. I wanted to photograph him quickly and rummaged in my bag. The noise startled the man. Too late! I tried to get him in the same position. It worked, but unfortunately his thoughts were gone.

sketchbook 6, page 64

Each time I see such a clear form on the back of a chair in combination with whoever’s sitting on it, I start thinking about whether it describes the feelings of this person or not.


sketchbook 5, page 3

Small piece of a photo on the subway fl oor. Everyone who’s passing by looks at it. It shows the face of a woman.

sketchbook 6, page 22

Untidy spot around a man (he’s not feeling well). Unorganized, no natural fl ow. Nice round spot around a small leaf (no emotion). Organized, natural fl ow. Make understandable why such forms exist.

sketchbook 6, page 116

Vary with spots.


sketchbook 6, page 107

What would happen if this man, who’s putting the chalk on the ground, had painted the white spots on the stairs as a response to the two laughing girls?


Photo's from Japan and my Archive  

Book , 2011