Voronoi Halo endeavours to visualise the invisible, to reveal something hidden, or impossible to see. Dark matter makes up most of our universe, its effects can be observed, but it has proven impossible to directly detect. Joint curiosity around its nature form the basis of a number of conversations between the astronomer, Rita Tojeiro and artist, Alistair McClymont. Tojeiro’s astrophysics research focuses on large spectroscopic galaxy redshift surveys to understand the content, geometry and expansion of the Universe. A project began with McClymont experimenting with sections of a telescope that Tojeiro worked with to help understand dark matter. From this starting point a discussion around patterns and sculptural forms has resulted in the creation of objects and images, the goal being to create an analogy of dark matter that can be directly experienced.
A series of inflated paper and resin forms, paired with cyanotype photogram prints, show a group of galaxies and point towards the existence of dark matter. Each sculptural form shows an area of space around a real galaxy and its dark matter halo. Every form has been directly imaged as a cyanotype photogram. 16 forms and 16 cyanotypes together show a filament of dark matter deep within the universe.
McClymont created software that could explore a set of galaxies that had been drilled into an aluminium plate used within a telescope that created the largest map of galaxies in the universe. The holes in the plate allowed scientists to isolate each galaxy and collect its light. The software McClymont developed can be seen here:
Dark matter is often explored using Voronoi diagrams, a mathematical system that divides areas into cells representing areas nearest to each galaxy. McClymont used this visual system to find patterns and groups of galaxies, revealing filaments of dark matter. A collection of Voronoi cells were cut out in paper, each cell with a hole cut out in the position of the galaxy it contained. These shapes were then inflated through the hole and were hardened with resin. Every form was placed on sheets of paper coated with cyanotype chemicals and exposed to light, creating a photogram. The paper and resin forms are placed in front of the cyanotypes in the formation of a single filament of dark matter.