A Map of the Invisible

A Map of the Invisible

Since our earliest beginnings we have been creating ‘maps of the invisible’. We are drawn to question whether there is more to existence than what we see.

Religions have been creating hypothetical maps of the invisible for millennia. These fascinate me. 

It used to be that some in the science community dismissed these as ‘superstitious’. Yet, in the quest to discover the nature of existence, science sometimes seems to be saying some strikingly similar things. For example, I used to think that when we talked about ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, we were talking about the same stuff as black holes. Things that were unimaginably distant, that they had no light and were therefore difficult to detect. It was only when I watched online lectures from Fermilab that I understood the name was misleading: these were invisible rather than dark. They were not in some far-flung galaxy but they were right here, a fundamental part of our reality – actually, something like 95.4% of our reality was dark energy and dark matter, the remaining 4.6% accounted for everything we could see, the entire detectable universe… it was mind-blowing.

The Bullet Cluster. The blue is thought to be caused by the gravitational effects of dark matter.

This has inspired A Map of the Invisible: an audio installation where the audience are surrounded by 24 speakers and sound unfolds a journey all around them.

As well as being an installation the work can become a concerto with a  soloist seated at centre and the audience and 24 audio speakers around them.  

The ‘map’ is provided by the speakers, the universe of sound all around us can change instantly, each audio speaker may become an individual singing voice, an orchestra instrument, a rain storm. 

Sounds: Source Materials

Humans, from Ptolemy to St. Peter, from Heraclitus to Hubble, have been drawing maps of the invisible for a very long time. I am fascinated by this quest to understand the unseen reality that apparently co-exists with us. To help create this particular ‘Map of the Invisible’ I draw from some of these maps (some are pictured below) and the traditions and rituals that surround them, as well as sounds of the universe itself:


This speaker array is from Janet Cardiff’s ’40 Voice Motet’ which uses a surround of speakers to reimagine and recapture Thomas Tallis’s ‘Spem in Alium’.

Some ‘Maps of the Invisible’:

Ptolemy placed the earth at centre of the solar system
One of the Christian ‘Maps of the Invisible’
An Ancient Greek ‘Map of the Invisible’
A Buddhist ‘Map of the Invisible’


Particle collision
The search for the Higgs Boson