'In order not to become a houseplant, I study wild plants. Their survival strategies, growth, and dispersal are a valuable source of inspiration for me. The way in which some plants can grow between tiles, survive on barren soil, or manage to infiltrate beautiful landscaped gardens is truly admirable to me.'
Til, J. van der (2019). Begrijp ik mijn tuin? Groningen, Nederland: Rhizomebook.
Jan van der Til employs natural concepts such as growth, self-regulation and spread of species to construct theoretical frameworks for his work, which aims to counteract narrow-minded thinking. His work, which is consistently titled 'Book' followed by a Roman numeral, is displayed in galleries and museums both domestically and internationally.
To reduce dependence on art institutions he increasingly utilizes the internet (excluding social media) and the concept of rhizome, as outlined in rhizome theory, to exhibit and further develop his work,. As of 2021, he has dedicated significant time to exploring the realm of crypto and the limitless potential of blockchain technology. He sees similarities between the idea of blockchain technology and rhizome theory where both have the concept of decentralization and power distribution among the network and the idea of growth, where the network is expanding and new nodes are added.
Concepts of work / Further reading
Reality is too often presented as a flawless, unified whole, and photos are used as true cut outs of reality, they cloud our vision rather than clarify it.
What I do manifests itself in many ways, is hybrid, questions life and is presented as a rhizome.
The photographic images, texts and objects that I use are ‘collages’ whose authorship is open to question.
What I do manifests itself in various ways, is at times anonymous, questions authorship, originality, meaning and context.
The boundaries between my work, original, and copy have gradually disappeared.
We have a natural tendency to fill in everything
What should we do when we re-examine an image?
My Book will never reach the point at which nothing can be improved; that is a relief.
I undermine and question the unique.
My work is about what can be seen and what cannot, and what we would have liked to see.
What happens when the experiential process is delayed or is brought to a halt, is that possible?
The image is not what it depicts, but a reference to what it depicts.
Perception is another word for translation.
A Book can concentrate and protect the image.
Can you dilute an image to the extent that it dissolves?
At least one translation precedes everything, but often several do.
Words long for words.
The accent in my work is increasingly coming to lie on images that refer rather than represent.
Isn’t always simply now?
Every image changes the identity of the previous and the next one.
Photography is a simultaneous abundance, wishes to be a simultaneous abundance.
Can a Book design itself, supplement itself under the eyes of a spectator, so to speak?
I can perceive my surroundings in no other way than from my own standpoint.
My work is about people.
To me, each photographic image means reconsideration.
Even after explanation, not everything can be understood.
Images that only please display only that.
Having no objective seems to me to be the most sensible activity possible.
My work is the result of a slow process involving the way in which an image makes not only statements about the theme that it presents.
Occasionally i become distracted; this generates new routes that are not always worth exploring.
By accommodating several images in a Book, a swing between image and viewer is created so that other images arise.
Nothing is normal or self-evident.
The experience of an image depends on the perception.
Language is a collection of references; to what extent does this also apply to image?
Everything we perceive is indirect.
The individual photographic image is subordinate to the image that arises through a succession of images.
The form of my Book is not an objective but rather the result of an action, a movement.
Interpretation is the completion of an incomprehensible reality.
Everything that we perceive is a translation.
The image occasionally only shows what is connected to the will of the ego.
Significance is the continuation of the movement that has been previously activated by the translation.
In my Book, translations and time are starting points.
My work is uncompromising and lacks an urge for form.
I am interested in the way in which our viewing focuses, makes choices, simply because we do not pay an equal amount of attention to every detail within our field of vision.
Language is memory.
You can show everything by showing little.
Too much photographic is lingual.
Does my white area allow scope for marginalia?
What is realistic?
What can I further add to all the visual information around us? I regard every addition as a great liability.
I believe that no one will write in my Book.
Every image is a construction.
To me, the after-image is more important than the image itself.
What I do does not create images, it only creates the preconditions for these.
The image devours me.
There is more in this world than comforting and impressing.
If my Book has a theme, it must be applied in such a way that it makes no real difference.
With my work I wish to initiate a lasting, continual process of viewing.
The theme does not lie in the photo but rather in its translation, I am interested in the time in-between.
Experience is also a translation.
When experience is an addiction it destroys beauty.
My work must not be emphatically present, only sufficiently present.
I work with a simple framework from which countless complex and constantly changing views and vistas can be seen.
The complexity of the Book lies in its simplicity, the bearer of this is the white area, which accommodates the significance and the way in which the Book allows itself to be read.
Choices in form and material arise through attentive listening.
I believe that if the image almost grinds to a halt it is possible to lodge there but not live there; you are not permitted to live there.
Claiming that truth is a stationary concept is dangerous.
It is difficult to keep still things still, it is even more difficult to leave still things still.
I am working on a Book that does not deviate much from what we see around us.
I know of no experiences that wholly coincide with words.
Choosing is more important than showing.
Many images display a spectacle.
My opinions on image are arbitrary.
I do not try to please, but do not exclude the possibility that my work consequently does exactly that in every detail.
Text is a translation of the translation of the translation et cetera.
My work arises with the turning of the pages or, even better, with the laying aside of the Book.
I do not wish to clamp on too tightly to viewing.
The genesis of my images is a slow, intense and time-consuming process in which i do not wish to find out or discover anything that does not exist, but rather something that is already present.
What is represented is not important, but rather the way in which the consciousness that underlies looking and interpreting is addressed.
A translation is a compromise.
Photography leads to new knowledge or insight as long as it lays no claim to reality and avoids dishing up a narrative structure that the viewer is required to follow only passively.
An overview is important in an image, but may obstruct every other view.
Without time, no translation can take place; without time, we would perceive nothing.
The photobook should not display a collection of photographic images, but a collection of preconditions.
I have constant conflict with the image; if something seems certain, I begin again to doubt it.
Images can cause a serious schism between doing and thinking.
Reaction is not a translation; it occurs afterwards, it is the result.
The number of images in a Book has nothing to do with aiming at a specific number, but with the conclusion that that every newly added image is superfluous.
The necessity of the Book must be palpable but never visible.
Visual statements aim to make the viewer not indifferent; if this does happen, the work must at least ask the viewer the question concerning the origin of this indifference.
I wish to omit the carrier of the image, the design that displays the image.
I must accept every consequence of my own ambition.
What appears to be standing still will, at a second glance, turn out to be slow, attentive movement.
Translation is not possible without time; is time also a translation?
A recollection is a shadow of reality; what we see are mainly recollections.
Is there a difference between association and interpretation?
Images are interwoven with us to the extent that each significance we attribute to ourselves can also be found in them.
Most photobooks show small worlds, and no more than that.
If the expectations of looking are not fulfilled, supplemented or confirmed, looking quits and then we only see what we want to to see.
It is not about what can be perceived, but about what is caused by perceiving.
Translations are constantly influenced, and continually change as a result.
The intensity of existence does not lie in what is registered.
The image is a mirror in which the viewer sees himself/herself.
We design our own senses.
An image should not occupy more space than is necessary.
I do not enjoy taking photographs.
The personal normally says nothing about the general.
I must confess that a day can completely slip my mind.
Haste is no part of my work.
I am not interested in photographing facts.
Every image paves the way for another one, so that a continuity of images is created.
There is an interval between seeing an image and reacting to it.
I think that making photographs has nothing to do with perception, let alone with reality; what I find interesting is that this is not a commonly held opinion.
I have faith in the image, otherwise I would not allow it so much scope.
Excess conceals the little that leads to true image.
The association between language and image is regarded as being much too self-evident.
A Book is synonymous with movement.
My ambition is to develop Books that are images.
how can you leave things open to the wise?
I often use the word ‘image’, exactly what I mean by this changes every day.
Omitting as in paint.
Looking without seeing anything seems to be impossible.
How is my Book arranged in the bookcase?
It is nonsense to think that you register something by means of a photographic image.
My relationship with the medium of photography is a difficult one.
For perception – translation – time is more important than light.
Most additions are superfluous.
Visual tension arises when looking is almost stationary.
Each word means reconsideration.
The images in my Book have not been chosen for their individual qualities.
My work is a reflection of image that wishes to become acquainted with the inherent projection.
If reaction, the cause of significance, can be postponed, there is mention of a stilled movement, a nothingness within which everything is possible.
My work is a dissection of image.
Everything in an image should be of equal importance; if that is not the case, there must be a reason.
There is a great deal to say about the agreements we make to perceive reality.
Where does experience begin and perception end, or was it the other way around?
It is occasionally difficult to say where form and content precisely merge into one another.
Recollection of image, what does that make of the recollection?
A photobook must do more than merely say something about the pictures it shows.
As soon as an image must impress and be monumental in its appearance, it immediately begins to bore me.
Are perceiving and looking the same thing?
Do images have individual qualities?
Reaction is a bearer of meaning.
I will never say that photography is my lust and life.
My work displays an increasing number of empty and incomplete images that force the spectator to undertake action.
What should be done with the compelling frame of a photographic image?
Looking for the essence of the essence is maddening.
Without time, we cannot perceive movement.
An orphaned photobook.
Is there such a thing as a collective visual memory?
My works have many white passages, distinctively white, without distinction.
The influence of light on perception is enormous.
Within my work, form is a vehicle and a result of attention.
I photograph images.
What is language doing when it explains what we are seeing?
Every image forms another.
What I dislike is the obtrusiveness of some images, the anxiety to be different.
A purified image.
My work is becoming a complex and conceptual experiment whose outcome is unknown and unclear; it is debatable whether or not this is worrying.
The most important reason to make a Book is to show what it does not contain.
There are no definite answers to even the most simple questions, let alone complex ones, or are both identical in that case?
I direct my efforts to what I call ‘a rest’; this is something that seems not to be part of our purposeful looking, registering.
The image in my Book is neither in the Book nor in the image itself.
I wish to demonstrate a perceptible and recognizable reality without actually displaying it.
I have no affinity with frills and decoration.
It is not easy to reduce a collection of images to a single object.
My work is about being unable to record what has to be abandoned.
I am concerned with the choreography of the whole, in which i regard the design of the Book and the photos and the context as sentences that have a direct relationship with the spectator, by means of which viewing processes can be steered, analyzed and made transparent.
I do not wish to add anything, but rather remove something.
The image has always been there, is infinite, has no beginning, no middle, no end, our concept of the universe is coherent with this.
In my work, form is not a goal but the result of an action, the concentration with which this is implemented determines the beauty.
Our brain appears not to accept that everything is meaningless.
Image is a framework.
I am seeking the rest.
The photos in my Book are not fixed, but come loose: a release that takes place during turning the page, putting the Book away, or forgetting the pages
In a Book, image, design and use of material ought to form a consistent and logical whole; if that is not the case, there must be a reason why
Written language differs from spoken language.
Do images need protection?
Good or bad images do not exist; what about good or bad translations?
Seeing is touching.
The sublime does not lie in the action, the movement, but in the remains of the perception, the almost motionlessness.
I do not wish to show wrapping.
What we normally do in order to understand something is describe its appearance, speak about it objectively.
Experience is the entirety of translation, reaction and meaning, but they themselves are also all mutual translations.
Pronounced without being so, pronounced without being, pronounced without, pronounced.
Words seem to have no connection at all to what they mean.
Simplicity can be inclusive without forcing an equal distribution of attention.
Translation is a precondition of existence.
I cannot look forward and back at the same time.
What is the consequence for my Book if it becomes part of a library, a collection?
People should reflect consistently upon everything.
I am not interested in what does not exist, but rather in what is already present.