The standard model of cosmology is an elegant work of art and a powerful piece of science. There is only one small problem: 95% of the mass of the universe is missing. So to make the theory work physicists have stipulated the existence of dark matter and energy; matter that we can't see as it is invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

Many other dark matters have been conceived since the discovery of fire. Dark matters are the bits of magic we invent to make our theories and beliefs of the world work again. Dark matters are living proof that humans can creatively dream up what doesn’t exist yet. And while we fear the dark, it also attracts us. Because the dark matters.

Creative researchers from the Leiden University Media Technology MSc program will imagineer new realities, blending art, science and technology into a thought provoking, disorienting mix of dark matters, hosted in De Meelfabriek in Leiden.

This will not be a static expo, more a playful research lab that mixes scientific approaches to art with creative approaches to science and research, for all ages and audiences. The researchers work from personal inspiration and curiosity and create physical works to explore concepts and engage the visitor to evoke ideas or questions. Many installations are interactive, some are early studies and prototypes, others will be more polished end products.  The creative researchers will be around to discuss the concepts, inspiration, ideas and methods behind their work, and even hack some more on the fly.

The expo will be open on Friday June 2nd – 15:00 – 21:00 and Saturday June 3 – 14:00 – 21:00. 
Location: Het Ketelhuis in De Meelfabriek, Oosterkerkstraat 18, Leiden. 

Free admission. For more information email mediatechnology@leiden.edu.

Please support this event by signing up to or sharing the Facebook Event. We would like to explicitly acknowledge and thank De Meelfabriek for hosting the expo in this wonderful location.


The expo was featured a in the local news in a number of ways,

Check this video from Leiden.tv with materials from the expo

Listen to this Science071 radio interview below with creative researchers Stijn and Esra, who discuss their works, the DARK MATTERS expo theme, the relationship between science and arts and more. 

Read the Mare article on the road towards the expo: 'The dark matters'.

The expo features six floors of works and installations, in the dark surroundings of het 'ketelhuis' in De Meelfabriek and includes the following works and and researchers,  

 // 95% invisible //
by Zois Loumakis

Light with its ubiquitous presence acts as a medium for our empirical observations, therefore delimits our sensory experiences. “95% invisible” is an audio-visual installation inspired from what is hidden from the absence of light. By creating a shadow play it aims to explore how light sound and space shapes our sensory understanding and thus the perception of our environment.

95% invisible from zois loumakis on Vimeo.

 // DETECT // 
by Jente Insing, Arzu Sahin and Stijn van Vilsteren

The blackness in space is something we tend to ignore when gazing up the night sky, but it is not as empty as you might think. We can only see about 20% of what is really there, the rest is hidden away in what we call dark matter. DETECT is an interactive installation where you are able to detect the undetected through discovery in the dark. 

 // Chirdon  // 
by Rense Notenboom

In Greek mythology there was spoken of special mythical creatures: Half-man, half beast, mostly described of having the torso and head of a man, and a body of a horse-like creature. They were called Centaurs. Centaurs were considered to be brute and vicious creatures, which should be avoided at all times. There was one Centaur that was seen as different. His name was Chiron. 

Chiron was seen as one of the wisest creatures at that time. He was a noble exception of the crude stigma of normal Centaurs: he was modest and civilized and was know for his medical and teaching abilities. Greek Greats like Heracles and Achilles visited his home on Mount Pelion to seek guidance by Chiron as their Mentor.

The myth of Chiron is the foundation of the installation. CHIRON explores the concept of humanity: What makes us human? In the case of Chiron you can say that knowledge was his savior: his brain was bigger than his heart. 

 // Baby Planet // 

by Kaan Koyuncu & Miguel Mira

Does our earth consist of only green and blue? Not at all. This is but a baby planet located in a huge universe, which carries much darkness. There are wars, animal factories, dictatorship, prostitution and even child labour? With this audio-visual installation, we invite you, to explore the matters that show the dark side of the world. 

 // Unleash // 
by Ashley P. Lee and Yanni Xiong

Have you ever thought deeper about yourself? Your dark side, those secrets hidden in the bottom level of mind. Have you ever thought of others? Others who you may pass by but never matter to your life...or those who you are familiar with, but don't know them well inside... It's time to unleash your darkness, unleash your deepest thought without anyone knows. With the energy releasing from self, one is able to shape the world. While being together, we are the world, for real.


// Protopheus //
By: Lotte van der Kamp, Rinske Roeleveld and Jolanda Versteeg

A fascination of the Greek god Prometheus and his feasted liver by Zeus. Every day his liver was eaten by eagle Eathon as a punishment for his hybris. Ever wondered how that would work in our modern technical world with the influences of Artificial Intelligence? Surround yourself with light, darkness and dive into the story of Protopheus and Singularity.

// FIAT LUX //
by Max Graven, Evelien Mols and Bonny Vloet 

Fiat Lux is an interactive installation that uses the magnetic properties of ferrofluid. The installation unfolds organically, showing a poetic transmogrification from darkness to light. 

// MEANT TO BE? //
by Danmeng Lei

Sometimes people say the human life is genetically determined, sometimes they say it depends on the environment you grow up. Will we become criminals if we have dark genes or live in the dark when we're young? Are we far away from the dark if we have good parents? Hey, come to explore the fate of human in the darkness

// I SEE YOU //
by Mark von Königsfeld, Esra İşgüzar, Wouter Moraal

In these times where extremes in thought are getting more common it can be dangerous to voice your opinion to another person, online and offline. This installation is a new way of communication that is designed to be intimate but still keeping participants safe so they have a space to settle differences


by Zoe Youngji Cho & Antria Kkousii

Lights and mirrors. Mirrors are useless without any light. Mirrors will reflect the reality within the dark matters of the universe and of society. Chaotic installation with all the unhidden wires and wood represent the complexity of our world, in which it is very hard to figure out what is real and what is not. In order to ask mirrors to showing the reality of dark matters, the core energy should go through all these complex structures of the world. MIRROR MIRROR will illuminate the dark matters to enlighten the reality to people. The harmony and composition of the movement of the mirrors will make a visual synchronicity and a joyful experience.

by Mark Reijer and Daisy Theuvenet

For most of Earth's history our spectacular universe of stars and galaxies has been visible in the darkness of the night sky. But today some of us must travel far away from  home. Away from the flow of artificial lightning to experience the expanse of the milky way as our ancestors once knew it. 

 // Haunted Spiral from space? //
by Maik Lanen and John Wesselingh

Some people say it was created by the aliens, while others say it's haunted ...
The Haunted Spiral doesn't like to be touched! If you do touch it, the consequences are yours and the spiral will take you on a trip!
Do you have what it takes to play with the Haunted Spiral? Let's find out during the dark matters expo.

 // Triptych ( A Stylistic Exercise) //
by Alessandro Panto and Petar van Haaster

The use of neural networks could constitute a powerful tool for creatives to flexibly generate images in a style of their liking, especially if its’ possible to do so without having to train the network in advance on the particular style chosen. The network extrapolates the stylistic traits from an image and combines them with the content of a second one.  

Albeit still undergoing a process of optimization, this piece shows our work with this technology so far in the form of a location-specific installation.d

// Quintessence // 

by Alexandra Verzier, Anna Chocholi and Christina Mason

Social spaces are codified environments where it is expected to throw a veil onto our dark elements. But it can also be this obscure spectrum that binds people to each other and the deepest thoughts can give birth to the deepest emotions. Human interactions are a constant negotiation and navigation between the conventions creating social harmony and variations which can make us stand out of the crowd. Are you sure that what you keep secret is what makes you different


The Dark Matters Open Lab Expo is the final event of the first year New Media New Technology class of the Leiden University Media Technology MSc Program.

In media technology one trend, technology or fad quickly follows the next. For anyone with an interest in media technology  and creative science it is important to be up to date with the latest and greatest, from augmented reality to dna editing, and from fabrication to responsive environments. However it is equally important to be able to critically reflect on these trends, to connect these to classical discussions, and to identify what is really novel and what is merely a hype. Only then we will truly be able to research and imagineer for the future in non incremental ways.

The New Media New Technology (NMNT) class explores the latest media and creative research technologies and concepts, organized by more timeless themes such as new media history, social relationships, space and intelligent perception and action, so that these technologies can be placed into perspective and context. The course follows a tinkering approach and is a mix of lectures and practical assignments, and students are asked to create works that incorporate a new technology or concept and motivate why it is not just a gimmick or hype. Prototypes and end results will be presented at an exposition open to the general public.

New Media New Technology is a course in the Media Technology MSc Program at LIACS, Leiden University, The Netherlands. The Media Technology MSc program is a place where students are encouraged to formulate their own scientific questions, and to translate personal inspirations and curiosities into their own research projects. To answer these questions, students create actual products, because we are convinced that by doing and creating, new scientific insights into the underlying question are encountered. 

For more information, contact Media Technology

Past editions of NMNT can be found here.