News & Events


May 12 Performance: Jeweled Net of the Vast Invisible

April 9, 2015

May 12, 6:45 to 9:00 pm: preview and reception, live performance of the Stephen Rush composition Jeweled Net of the Vast Invisible
Duderstadt Center Video Production Studio,  University of Michigan North Campus
Installation open noon to 6:00 pm daily, May 13-15

Jeweled Net is a visualization of the distribution of dark matter in the universe, based on data from a massive billion-particle computer simulation.  The installation features a continuously running multi-channel video projection in a twenty-foot high, 140-degree panorama and acoustic environment, immersing viewers in the vast jeweled spaces and sonic structures derived from the billion data points simulating the distribution of dark matter.  In the May 2015 installation, viewers will fly through a simulation of dark matter in the process of evolving from a nearly uniform distribution soon after the Big Bang, to the distribution that characterizes our universe at the present epoch while experiencing an immersive sonic environment of music inspired by those spaces.

This installation coincides with the Dark Energy Survey (DES) Collaboration Meeting, bringing 150 scientists from around the globe to the UM campus. DES is in its second year of a five-year photometric survey on the Blanco telescope in Chile, mapping the southern skies in an effort to understand the nature of dark energy that now dominates our universe. At the May 12 reception, members of the community and scientists attending the collaboration meeting are invited to exchange ideas and inspire one another while they experience the installation together.

As we travel through this simulation, we experience the formation of structures, halos, voids and filaments, which owe their existence to minute quantum fluctuations when the universe was first launched. These structures, amplified by inflation, propagated by sound and intensified by gravity, formed the invisible net that captured the matter that made up the first stars, galaxies and galaxy clusters, the “jewels” that we see as we look out on the universe today. Heavy elements forged in these stars became the raw ingredients from which our sun, our planet and life came about.  We are children of the stars, literally, made of stardust created and ejected into the interstellar medium many billions of years ago.  And yet this underlying net of dark matter is invisible to the eye.  Its existence can only be inferred by studying the galaxies and stars that decorate this vast invisible net.  Scientists see this beauty and stand in awe of the grandeur of our universe.

Jeweled Net of the Vast Invisible is an Art/Science collaboration funded by the University of Michigan MCubed seed grant program. The team is comprised of Gregory Tarlé (Department of Physics), Stephen Rush (School of Music, Theatre and Dance), Jim Cogswell (Stamps School of Art and Design), Brian Nord (Fermilab) along with graduate students Jason Eaton (Computer Science) and Simon Alexander-Adams (Music, Theater, and Dance).  The installation is made possible through the generous efforts of Tom Bray, Converging Technologies Consultant at the University.

Documentary video of 2014 installation:
Interview with collaborative team:

May 12 Performance: Jeweled Net of the Vast Invisible