SCROLL OF SCROLLS - development of idea and application of method 1975 - 2005 by Tjebbe van Tijen


Landscape and sky, drifting clouds, flights of birds, flowing rivers, waving trees, spectacle of sunset and rise, span of twinkling stars, human and animal silhouetes over the horizon, all that might have been inspiration sources for the picture scroll. Raked sand, ondulating cave walls, animal hides, tree bark, long leaves, battered fibres, woven threads, slabs of clay, wood and stone became carriers of information. Banners, buildings, impressions, painting, scratching, carving, tapestry, frescos and friezes made the eye wonder and the spectator wander as over time these information surfaces conconated in vast picture trajectories on the walls of temple complexes, palaces and public buildings.

Pompe, parades,and processions with iconographic objects carried around: banners, flags, statues, shrines lifted on many shoukders. This 'promenade', itself, became the subject of all sorts of linear visual representation, whereby the spectator might either unroll the spectacle represented on a roll or scroll, or stroll along walls with pictured stories and ceremonial display.

Somehow this tradition must have caught me, be it in an unconscious way at first.

In the seventies of last century I started to make visualized 'time lines' as part of a whole series of exhibitions on urban questions of the inner town of Amsterdam. These time-lines were horizontal strips which combined text and images, showing the development of the Nieuwmarktbuurt over a few centuries. Later a friend of mine had acquired a panoramic photo camera and his images were frequently used in the displays we made for citizens actions. Using horizontal strips of images became a regular method over the years, we even developed simple transparent plastic enveloppes to facilitate this exhibition method; slide in photographs, caption texts, newspaper cuttings and the like. (This first period, (1975-1985 is not yet visually documented.)

A selection of seventy examples of horizontal and vertical scrolls made since 1988 are shown here. When one would measure their total length as a print-out it would be over a quarter of a kilometer.

The scrolls have served all kind of purposes: citizens urban actions, artistic historical representations, an exhibition on alternative European culture, an interactive media installation on shamanism, visualizations of space and content of libraries and archives, portfolio like overviews of my work and most of all for lectures and presentations with a wide variety of subjects.

Som early scrolls were just long strips of photocopid images taped together, others crude and spontaneous collages. Over the years a method for constructing elebarorate layered scrolling compositions evolved. Most scrolls are panoramic, so they move horizontal, though there are also vertical scrolls and in some projects with interactive movies, horizontal and vertical scrolling (like panning in a movie) has been combined.

Horizontal scrolls have special qualities especially for narrated presentations: images can be presented in a continuous way and the visual narrative is not constantly disrupted by sudden disappearance of one and appearance of an other image (like in slide shows and regular power point presentations); images slide smoothly in and out of view; one knows where one came from and one can also see where one is heading; it is supportive of what can be called 'short time memory'; there is a constant feeling of orientation, backward is to the left, forward to the right; it has the logic of scanning the horizon with a double movement of neck and eyes, constantly shifting the point of attention, also being capable to swiftly turn one's view back or forward.

The physical materials I have used for making scrolls have differed over time: montaghed paper strips, photocopies, microfilm, photostrips and all kind of digital formats. After the crude monatged paper strips the first collage and merging of pictures have been done photographically. Color slides were superimposed with a special backlit duplicating device, overlapping and masking and direct painting on the film with special dyes made the edges of the frame difuse allowing for a more continuous visual experience. Beginning and end of these horizontal filmstripswere joined in a loop and projected by modified slide projectors with a horizontal transport system.

Digital image and managment techniques have enabled a further merging and more subtle and suggestive interpretation of images into panoramic story- and mind-scapes. Some of the later scrolls have up to a hundred image layers. The quantative and qualative leap of both hardware and software of the last decade has made the creation of such compliex pictures possible, whereby the biggest amount of work tends to be picture research, scanning and documenting. Keeping track of the original meaning or context of a picture in the production process is essential if one's aim is to create visualized forms of history. To end up with a hundred or so picture element means having a ten to twentyfold amount of images to chose from. To be able to work with such an quantity of pictures one needs a database system allowing for what can be called 'interactive visualization'; going back and forward between picture selections, a technique that makes spontaneous decisions possible, that fosters playfullness in the creative process.

Most scrolls have been made for some sort of public use, but I have used the format also for personal and intimate expression, like a small series of funeral scrolls for my girlfriend Josien who died totally unexpected in 1990 and a set of memory scrolls for friends and family after the death of my mother a few years ago summarizing aspects of their lives.

Another development was the 'Micro-Chrono-Machine' of 1994 a hybrid installation that combined a long strip of microfilm streched below a set of rails over which a microfilm projector mounted on wheels could be moved by the spectator. ( realized with the Rolf Pixley and Otto Schuurman). Each centimeter of microfilm resulted in a projection of two by one meter on the wall. The position of the micro-film was continuously tracked by a funky sensor system - with pullies and a rope - producing digital sound related to each part of the microfilm, played through a loudspeaker mounted on the wheeled projector. The content displayed was an overview of 30 years of my work in the field of art and social action.

Special wooden scroll boxes have first been constructed for an exhibition on shamanism in the Tropen Museum Amsterdam in 1997. This design in collaboration with Gert-Jan Leusink and Frank Hoogveld could contain scrolls of several meters printed on a special back-light foil. The construction had to be very sturdy because it was meant for an exhibition with mass attendance (over 100.000 vistors have used the scroll boxes), so the user can not turn it the wrong way and can not break the encased scroll as a a slipping device was built in. These scroll boxes have been recycled for use in in other exhibitions.

Most scrolls used for 'visual lectures' did at first not have a fixed narration. The idea was and still is that the flow of images will help to generate a flow of speech, including hesitations and associations that can differ at each occasion. The scroll becomes a kind of score somehow fixing the main argument in suggestive image combinations, at the same time allowing for spontaneous variations and adaptation to audience and mood. After doing a visual lecture a few times a process of fixation, of writing and editing may take place ending with a publishable iamge and text scroll.

Lately touch screen versions of scrolls have been produced with touchable areas that produce half transparent overlays. One of these was a museum installation about Papua musical instruments and had a two to three minutes (aynschronous) sound track. A last version has been a scroll interface on 'Visual Language' that has left right navigation sensors and all areas of the scroll on the screen can be touched and will produce back ground information overlays.


1989 Statue parade "Imaginary Museum of Revolution" 1989 Scrolling film strips "Europe Against the Current"
1994 Projector on rails "Micro-Chrono Machine" 1997 Scroll boxes for "Neo-Shamanism"n Amsterdam
1998 Interactive drum scrolls "Neo-Shamanism" Tokyo 1999-2004 Examples of scrolls in books and magazines
Inside of hand scroll and set-up with lightbox. Box with some of my paper scrolls...
2000 Scroll lecture "Paradox of Traceless Art" 2004 -Touch scrolls "Papua Music" TropenMuseum

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film strip camera projector screen
1989: "Imaginary Museum of Revolution"; sample of projected slide strips with parade of revolutionary monuments; projection with special panoramic slide projector. First presented at the Brucknerhaus Linz; project together with a.o. Jeffrey Shaw, Fred Gales, Gideon May, Marijke Griffioen and Hans Derks.

film strip camera slide duplicator projector screen
European alternative and radical posters installation during manifestation "Europe Against the Current", Gallery W139, Amsterdam; two projection scrolls made as color slide collage with slide duplicator and direct painting on film strip (collage by Suzanne Oudshoorn); projection with special panoramic slide projector.

paper scroll copier montage diazo printer exhibit stand
1989 "Spazio Culturale Libero" (Vrije Culturele Ruimtes" free cultural spaces; essay in Dutch only), a series of six big exhibition scrolls made for a conference of the Casa Culturale di Milano with texts and image materials; also a series of purely visual context image strips; montages on the basis of translucent black and white photocopies printed with a big diazo machine as used for architect drawings.

paper scroll copier montage visualizer beamer screen narrator
1996 "Ars Oblivivendi" (the art of forgetting); seven long paper lecture scrolls captured by a video camera and projected on a huge screen in the lecture hall during Ars Electronica "Memisis" conference in Linz; photocopies of news agency pictures relating to ways of remembering and forgetting generated an improvised narration.

digital scroll scanner workstation internet
1996 "Ars Oblivivendi"; illustrative scroll for web article based on the visual lecture at the Ars Electronica Linz.

paper scroll copier micro copier montage visualizer beamer screen narrator
1996 "The Limping Messenger"; lecture with paper scroll and video camera (visualizer) for 'Doors of Perception' conference in Amsterdam on 'speed'; on the basis of photocopies from picture dictionaries and microfilm collection of emblem art; projected on big screen with direct naration.

digital movie camera scanner workstation computer beamer mirror interactive drum speaker
1997-1998: "Neo-Shamanism sixteen ways of the shaman"; a yurt construction and an interactive projection drum (with rmirror) for chosing and showing scrolling image sequences in the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam and the Inter Cultural Center in Tokyo; a collaboration with Fred Gales and Rolf Pixley.

digital scroll scanner workstation internet
1998 "Digital Ways of Forgetting"; illustrative scroll for article on website.

paper scroll scanner workstation digital scroll laser printer lay-out fax machine narrator webcam internet visualizer beamer screen speaker
1998 "Virtual Museums"; a telepresence lecture, given from the ICC Gallery in Tokyo to the conference on Virtual Museums by the ARCH Foundation in Salzburg; using web cam for spoken text and trying to use fax machine in Tokyo and a video visualizer in Salzburg to show the picture scroll rolling out of the fax (too complex did not really work).

digital scroll camera scanner tape recorder workstation internet
1999: Archive travalogue of the "Ohara Institute for Social Research" in Tokyo; five scrolls to give some idea of the housing and content of archives; a first attempt also using a taperecorder for documenting while taking pictures.

digital scroll scanner workstation magazine
1999 "Tracings of time, two 20th century emblems"; two scrolls for the UK media magazine "Mute"; running over several pages of the magazine.

digital scroll scanner download workstation laptop beamer screen narration
2000 "Media Morphose"; five lecture scrolls originally made for a Studium Generale lecture at the AKI art school in Enschede, Netherlands, later expanded and used for media and art school teaching.

printed scroll camera scanner workstation digital scroll inkjet printer scroll box
2000 Overview of work by Tjebbe van Tijen 1961-1999; two printed hand scroll for exhibition "InfoArcadia" in Centrum Beeldende Kunst Den Haag.

digital scroll scanner workstation laptop narration beamer screen
2000 "Paradox of Traceless Art"; five lecture scrolls (three horizontal, two vertical) for 'Doors of Perception' conference on 'lightness' Amsterdam. Also a small size printed version with a fixed text exists. NB the vertical scrolls are to be found at the bottom of this web-page.

digital scroll camera scanner workstation laptop beamer screen narration
2000 "Sometimes the Information Leaves the Library"; lecture scroll for Bruxelles conference on a possible new art institute in that town. Most of the photographs are of the book depot of the University Library Amsterdam and are made by Pieter Boersma.

digital scroll color pencils scanner workstation internet
2002 "Ars Memoria System"; an explanatory scroll of an information system in permanent developement used for most of my projects; made for a grant application; also used as a lecture scroll for the DEAF manifestation organized by the V2 center in Rotterdam in 2003.

digital scroll lightbox digital camera workstation laptop beamer screen narration
2002 "Your Life in a Shoebox"; three lecture scrolls on personal memory systems and information carriers first used for the Hogeschool voor de Kunst Utrecht. The digital pictures have been taken by spreading out materials on a light box.

digital scroll stereo camera camera scanner wax recorder tape recorder record player workstation computer touch screen speaker
2003 "Papua Music"; seven annotated touch screen scrolls with music based on historical sound and image materials, for the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam contextualizing instruments from the museum collection (permanent display); based on research by ethno-musicologist Fred Gales.

digital scroll scanner download workstation book
2003 "A Panorama of Pre-Cinematic Principles"; a visual essay in the form of a scroll with poetic subtitling as an opening statement for the 'Future Cinema' book, a big historical catalogue for an exhibition made by the ZKM Karlsruhe (Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel). The scroll runs continuously over severeal pages of the book.

digital scroll scanner download workstation magazine
2004 "Unbombing the World"; two visual essays in the form of a scroll with subtitles, running over several pages of a journal; made to accompany an interview with me by Geert Lovink for 'Open, Cahier on Art and the Public Domain'; also used as lecture scroll for the 'City as a Target' conference at the University of Singapore in the same year.

digital scroll scanner download workstation laptop beamer screen narration
2005 "Museums in Our Minds"; four lecture scrolls made for a symposium on media art organized by ARCO Madrid moderated by Angel Kalenberg.

paper scroll digital scroll scanner digital camera download workstation inkjet printer scroll box computer touch screen
2005: "Ideas of Visual Language"; a printed hand-scroll (8 meters long) and the same scroll in digital format with left right navigating switches and a touch-screen with 100 background overlays; made for the Catalyst exhibition part of the Design Biennale of Lisboa curated by Max Bruinsma.