Jan van IJken is a filmmaker and photographer from Leiden, the Netherlands, working at the interface of art and science. His work is about the secrets of nature, microscopy, embryology and human-animal relationships. He is  working mainly autonomously on long-term projects. As a photographer, he developed a strong eye for natural light, composition and detail. 


Planktonium (2021, 4K Video, color, 15:23) about the unseen world of microscopic plankton

Planktonium had its world premiere at Ji.hlava Documentary Film Festival, CZ and the Dutch premiere was at Inscience Film Festival, Nijmegen.

The Dutch Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden acquired Planktonium for its collection and the film will be part of Leiden European City of Science 2022.

Becoming (2018, HD Video, color, 06:15) about the miraculous genesis of animal life

Becoming has been screened at more than 25 international film festivals and received the Award for best short documentary at the Innsbruck nature film festival 2018, the Visual Science Award at Imagine Science Abu Dhabi 2019 and a honorary mention at Academia Film, Olomouc, CZ. The film was awarded Vimeo Staff Pick of the Month and nominated for Vimeo Best of 2019 (top 10 experimental films).

In 2019 the film went ‘viral’ on internet and has been watched by millions of people. It was published on the website of National Geographic, Aeon, Colossal, Live Science, IFLScience and numerous others. The Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door screened the film, including an interview.

The art of flying (2015, HD Video, black&white, 06:52) about starling murmurations

The film has been screened at more than 50 international filmfestivals, galleries, biennales, etc. and was awarded ‘Best art film’ at Pärnu Film Festival, Estonia, selected for National Geographic Short Film showcase and awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick.

Nevermore (2013 HD Video, color, 03:37) about the process of action painting

Facing Animals (2012, HD Video, color, 29:31) about the complex human-animal relationship

Grand prix short films at Split Film festial, Croatia


He published 3 photobooks:
Precious Animals (2005) about the relationship between man and animal

New Neighbours (2004) about the enlargement of the E.U.

A touch of Divinity (2001) about religion in Eastern Europe
The publication of the book was followed by a tour around monumental churches.

Assignments and Funding
2003 Document Nederland, Rijksmuseum / NRC Handelsblad
2006 Stipend The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture

Publications (selected)
Trouw, Volkskrant Magazine , PF, Nikon Pro Magazine, Black&White Photography, Kwartalnik Fotografia, Theme-supplement / special of Dierbaar/Precious Animals, printed with NRC Handelblad, Focus Magazine, De Morgen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, El Mundo Magazine, EIGHT, Shots, Mother Jones Magazine,  International Photography Awards, Vision, Vice Magazine, America Photography #23, Days Japan

Solo-exhibitions (selected)
2001 Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
2001 Der Aa-kerk Groningen
2005-2006 Huis Marseille Amsterdam,
2006 Screening at photofestival Visa pour l’image, Perpignan, France

Awards (selected):
Humanity Photo Award, China
International Photography Awards
American Photography

2019 De Wereld Draait Door (interview/screening Becoming)

2019 Vroege Vogels, Zomerportet
2005 NPS Kunststof, 1 hour interview
2005 Vroege Vogels,  2 hour special/interview

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
John Cleary Gallery, Houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Hollandse Hoogte photo-agency, Amsterdam


Interview Kunststof radio (in Dutch) 15 November 2005