The Null Hypothesis.

All images © Jan Cieślikiewicz.

All images © Jan Cieślikiewicz.

Null Hypothesis is Jan Cieślikiewicz’s series, and they are stunning photos, most of them likely to leave you with an open-mouthed “wtf?” as they tend to evoke many questions, and a desire for more information.

The other series are just as worthy of your attention:

All images © Jan Cieślikiewicz.

All images © Jan Cieślikiewicz.

Many of them are delightfully inexplicable without further information, which is a wonderful challenge for a species that is constantly on the hunt for facts and absolutes, and insists on narrative. Go have a wonderful wander, and poke your inner existential angst a bit.

Jan Cieślikiewicz Photography.


  1. says

    I love the stuff that makes you think. It always makes me wonder if the artist had any idea what impact it would have, or if they were just shooting into the air to see if anything would happen.

  2. says

    I love the thinky stuff too. In this case, Jan was deliberate, this is his statement on The Null Hypothesis:

    The modern world rejects randomness and shuns ambiguity. It strives for understanding, predictability; it gives an illusion of control. The media is full of experts confidently foretelling the future. The past is explained away with little room for doubt. Not having a stance is considered a sign of weakness. Yet the natural state of human psyche, and our whole existence, our “null hypothesis,” is a state of confusion and uncertainty.

    “Null hypothesis” refers to one of the most important analytical research methods used across a variety of fields, from psychology to physics. In null hypothesis testing it is usually presumed that given observations result purely from chance, whereas the alternative implies influence by a non-random cause. The aim of this method is to reject the null hypothesis, and thus prove—with certainty beyond reasonable doubt—that the random explanation is false, and the hypothesized non-random one is true.

    From every day events to the most fundamental questions, both on a personal and cosmic scale, we are surrounded by contradictions, unknowns, and change. Everything that seems to us as absolute will come to pass. History is full of dead truths, and people that fought for them. Religions, as timeless as they seem, have their beginning and will one day see an end. In science, basic concepts like time and space take on new meanings with each generation. Some things are just not to be resolved.

    He’s an interesting person.

  3. says

    My absolute favourite in The Null Hypothesis series is this one, because it just about kills me to not know what the hell that thing is, where it is, and what the context of it all is.

    It makes me think of a cistern, but that’s not right.

  4. says

    Caine@#3: looks like art -- parged concrete -- a giant vase. Maybe someone just made it for their back yard because.

    Some of the most profound things appear purposeless.

  5. says

    I’d put money on it you’re wrong, Marcus. Look at the place it’s in. That’s not a residence, and while I could see a giant vase, the setting is absolutely wrong, and an artist would not neglect that aspect.

  6. says

    Betting on me being wrong is like stealing from a kid, it’s not fair. :)

    Well, it’s on a mound, but it’s at the bottom a hill. Arty septic vent, maybe?

  7. rq says

    Maybe it has no context. It just is.
    It makes me think of a seed, though. A giant seed sitting in that rather barren, anthropogenically altered landscape.
    However, that seems to be a rather null-hypothesis type opinion, and the site specifically says:

    The aim of this method is to reject the null hypothesis, and thus prove—with certainty beyond reasonable doubt—that the random explanation is false, and the hypothesized non-random one is true.

    But then, at the end, it also says

    Some things are just not to be resolved.

    So I think you can go back and forth on what counts as the null hypothesis, and never really know which one is correct (I mean, unless you do all the background research, which I am too lazy for right now :D).

    The first photo you feature in your OP is very poignant. He’s putting aside his warrior image to enjoy something as a human being.
    I love the randomness of the images, they have a certain disconnect that hiccups the brain, but if you look at them all without any context, they make a funny sort of sense.

  8. says


    I love the randomness of the images, they have a certain disconnect that hiccups the brain, but if you look at them all without any context, they make a funny sort of sense.

    I think that’s getting it. Felt that way, too.

  9. says

    Caine @3
    Well, let’s play detective. There’s a small red car parked under the tree, a residence is probably off to the right connected to the domestic power cable. There are buildings on a higher level. There is a small brown and white sign on a pole above the ‘vase”, probably pointing to a tourist interest. My wild guess is that the “vase” was placed there for the purpose of a photograph, it’s barely propped up by a few loose rocks and would fall over quite easily. The ground surface around the ‘vase” looks artificially mussed up to hide the tracks of the machine used to place the “vase”. To me it looks like an interesting person lives there.

  10. says

    As I said, I don’t want to know the narrative, it’s more fun without. For the record though, I never did, and still don’t, see it as any sort of vase. If I had to give it a label, I’d go with egg, because more possibilities. :D

  11. Ice Swimmer says

    I feel that one theme is fishing. However, this is possibly cultural bias.

    Interesting material, all of the pictures.

  12. rq says

    I think that, as with psychic readings, horoscopes and tarot cards, there’s enough clues in every picture for each viewer to see what is closest to their own hearts -- for Middle Child’s birthday, we bought a game called “Mysterium” which uses the same sort of idea for a series of truly random ‘dream’ cards that you use to solve crimes. And even for relatively simple images, it’s amazing how many different associations even people closely sharing a history (like my kids) can come up with. These photos are like the real-life level-up of that, they only have the context that you choose (or don’t choose) to give them.

  13. Kreator says

    Sorry, I just can’t help myself…

    Picture #1: After a long and arduous journey, the deserter finally reached the fabled Sea of Milk. He squatted, eager to try a sip of the nourishing liquid. As he prepared to submerge his hands on the white waters, however, a chain of thoughts that he had supressed during his adventure finally managed to set itself free from the distractions of imminent danger: “is this cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or something else? And more importantly… is this shit pasteurised?!?!”

    Picture #2: The experiment had been a colossal failure. Doctor Malvick’s migraine was as strong as ever, and now the laboratory was lost in another dimension.

    Picture #3: “Rule number one of Yacht Club: you DO NOT talk about Yacht Club. Rule number two: you DO NOT keep the door open long enough to let our practise water leak out. Dammit, Peterson! How many times do we have to remind you of this?”

    Picture #4: Competition for resources is fierce among the rocksetter rizoformers. Here, an alfasex and a gammasex rizoformer had the misfortune to latch onto the same rock at the same time. As it would be perfect for the nest of their respective reproductive units, none of them is willing to let go and violence will surely follow.

    Picture comment #3: The landing had been successful; the silicate-rich planet would offer enough material for repairs and nourishment. The presence of organic life forms was a disappointing turn of events, but the success of the mission was more important that the survival of a single planet’s ecosystems.

  14. Kreator says

    Oh rq, be careful what you wish for…

    [PICTURE]: It was too late. The rift begun to open, and the alien star’s green light started to pour in. Pieces of our own universe flared up in strage ways as the exotic particles bathed them with properties that defied our understanding of physics. Doctor Damien tried to look around in shock, but couldn’t: the whole world seemed to have flattened somehow. She tried looking at her hands, but all she could see was dust, emerald dust. It seemed to have come from the ground, but not the one below her: the one from the mountains in the distance. How far were they, five miles? Impossible to determine in the rapidly degrading landscape. “Are there even such things as ‘below’ or a distance any more?” she asked herself. With that, her view faded to green, then black.

    [PICTURE]: The pile smelled good… so good. Its red strains tasted even better than the yellow ones from before. What kind of animal could have produced such alluring manure?

    [PICTURE]: The trap was set, and this time it was going to work for sure. Soon, the scientific community would stop laughing at them. Soon, they would bask in glory as they confirmed to the world the existence of the magnificent but elusive Arctic Penguin.

    [PICTURE]: Locked! The door was locked. A whole world of possibilities was out there, but it was out of their reach now. They thought about the trees, the flowers, the birds, and all the other riches from the outside that had been denied to them. They also thought about the humans, but they would have liked to come out anyway. And in any case, there was always the plan. But why keep thinking? All of that was lost.

    [PICTURE]: Where had those doofuses gone? As annoying as they were, the station felt so empty without them… and when they actually managed to stay within their area of expertise, they could even be quite useful. But no, they loved their amateur zoology work.

    [PICTURE]: The stars had finally aligned themselves in the proper order. The ancient spirit growled, its legendary rage increasing as it climbed from the fiery pits of that which humans foolishly called “Hell.” Even its own followers, who had so dilligently prepared its escape, had made that mistake -and for that they were now nothing but ashes. But as the otherwordly beast crept closer to the top its anger turned to desperation.

    The stars were right. But the ladder was not.

    [PICTURE]: It was supposed to be easy. It was just a penguin, for Pete’s sake! How could anyone have known about the laser vision?

    [PICTURE]: At last, the mountain’s echo had been restored.

    [PICTURE]: The predator lied in wait. The roadrunner’s time had come.

    [PICTURE]: There was no more grass left at the factory; it was time to go back to the farm.

    [PICTURE]: The camouflage worked wonders. Who would have thought that the mist was going to be so easy to fool? It might have been too late for the rest of the human race, but now they could at least spend the rest of their days in relative peace.

    [PICTURE]: Johnson had managed to resist, but the horse was already heading towards the dense forest. The wind that caressed the canopy sounded eerily like laughter.

    [PICTURE]: This was it: the last piece of greenery in the world, and it was a civilian who found it.

  15. chigau (違う) says

    I think the egg-shaped thing is small but the photo is fool-the-eye.
    also standing, me

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