Under the water surface of every pond or ditch is an unseen world of invisible tiny creatures. They seem to come from another planet, with their bizarre shapes and complex structures. The film is a journey into an unknown universe inhabited by alien-like creatures. There are planet-like organisms such as diatoms and sun-animalcules. Rotifers and water fleas wander through the water. They are completely transparent, so you can see their inner workings. The diversity of both plant and animal plankton is enormous, as are the numbers in which they occur.
What I find most interesting is that the plankton is very abundant in all waters around us. However, hardly anyone is aware of the presence of the countless creatures, their stunning beauty and the crucial role they play in the ecosystem. They are only becoming visible through the microscope. Some organisms have been on Earth for many millions of years, sometimes in unchanged form. Since I discovered plankton, I’ve become addicted to it. Every time I go out with my plankton net, I am curious about what I will find and I am always amazed by my finds. Every sea, ditch and lake have its own biotope and there are also major differences per season.
Plankton is often examined for research purposes (e.g. for the examination of water quality), or to investigate the structures of the organisms. I want to capture the creatures as living beings, tiny and fragile, in the best possible quality I can achieve. It is wonderful to observe them in all their detail and beauty. There is so much in nature we aren’t aware of and I am trying to reveal some of its secrets in my work. I capture the organisms against a black background (dark field illumination) in my own studio, using old, but very high-quality research microscopes. In recent years I have gained a lot of experience in microscopy (also for my film Becoming), with great help of my friends of the Dutch microscopical club NGVM.
Editing the film was not so easy because of the enormous diversity of the material. My approach was to make a film like abstract art with an edit focused on forms and colors in a kind of slow cinema. Metje Postma was of unmissable help in finalizing the montage.
From the beginning I knew that I didn’t want to use music as a soundtrack in the film, but the sound of underwater creatures. I did some research on the internet and contacted Jana Winderen. For many years she has been capturing exactly the sounds that I was looking for. There is a great match between her fantastic sound recordings and my footage, and I am really happy she made a sound composition for the film.
My goal is not to make an educational film or to give scientific explanations, but I want to share my amazement for the minute wonders of nature by making an art film. It is a typical project on the edge of art and science.