A short film explores the hidden world of microscopic plankton

Photographer and filmmaker Jan Van IJken plunged into the mysterious world of plankton for his short film Planktonium. Using a microscope, he takes us into a world invisible to the naked eye. And in doing so, it shines a light on these ecosystem heroes, who are increasingly threatened by climate change.

These living organisms, which can take extraterrestrial forms, play a vital role on our planet. They are divided into two main groups, phytoplankton, which are plants, and zooplankton, which are animals. Phytoplankton accounts for half of Earth’s photosynthesis, making it one of the world’s top oxygen producers. Zooplankton are an essential food source for many sea creatures, including whales.

Yet, despite all the importance of plankton, there are still so many unknowns. To lift the veil of mystery, Van IJken filmed these fascinating creatures under a microscope and recorded all their fascinating details. The result is the 15-minute short film Planktonium. On a haunting sound composition by the Norwegian artist Jana Winderen, the images are presented without narration.

Thus, Van IJken allows the plankton to speak for themselves. Their slow movements and intricate shapes take center stage, as viewers can see what is usually invisible. A short 3-minute version is available on Vimeo, but if you want the full experience, Van IJken’s full film is available to rent or download on demand.

Planktonium is a short film about the world of microscopic plankton.

Dutch filmmaker Jan Van IJken filmed a variety of plankton under a microscope.

Planktonium by Jan Van IJkenPlanktonium by Jan Van IJken

He calls the result “a journey into a secret universe, inhabited by extraterrestrial creatures.”

Plankton microscopyMicroscope photo of plankton

This work highlights the importance of plankton, which is increasingly threatened by climate change.

Microscope photo of planktonClose-up photo of plankton

The full 15-minute short film is available upon request.

Planktonium by Jan Van IJkenPlanktonium by Jan Van IJkenJan Van IJken: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Vimeo

My Modern Met has granted permission to feature photos by Jan Van IJken.

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