Dark Distortions

Thijs Biersteker in collaboration with cosmologist Henk Hoekstra (Leiden University) | The Netherlands, 2020

Dark Distortions

How can we visualise stuff strong enough to bend light?

While observing the movement of stars in the outskirts of galaxies, researchers noticed them move faster than they should. Something invisible was pulling at them. This same invisible stuff in clusters of galaxies was found to be heavy enough to bend and distort the paths of light rays detected by astronomers. The answer? Dark matter.

The kinetic sculpture mimics the motion of stars in a galaxy with dark matter, and bends the rays of light like dark matter does. It shows how, by simply looking carefully, we can discover things beyond our imagination.


Dark Distortions was developed as part of the lead-up to the new ESA mission Euclid, to be launched in 2022. The satellite will map the geometry of the universe to help us better understand dark matter and dark energy. Thijs Biersteker creates interactive awareness installations about the world's most pressing issues today: his works turn the impact of climate change, air pollution, ocean plastic, diversity, or data misuse into a tangible experience.

Dark Distortions was commissioned by Science Gallery Dublin.

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