With the aid of multiple microscopes, filmmaker and photographer Jan van IJken (previously) unveils the otherwise imperceptible maneuvers and bodily transformations of plankton. He focuses on a diverse array of underwater organisms, which all fall under the same taxonomy because of their inability to swim against the tides and are crucial to life on Earth, providing half of all oxygen through photosynthesis. Set against black backdrops, the marine drifters appear otherworldly in shape and color, and the filmmaker documents water flea eggs visible through translucent membranes, the spiked fringe of cyanobacteria, and the minuscule movements of various creatures as they wriggle across the screen.
Planktonium is accompanied by an audio composition by Norwegian artist Jana Winderen, which features sounds that are generally too difficult for humans to hear unaided, including the gurgles of water deep below the surface or the crackling insides of ice cubes. In addition to the truncated film shown above—find the full 15-minute version on Vimeo—van Ijken also released a photo series of the strange creatures, which are available in prints as part of a limited-edition boxset on his site.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You'll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!