Lying on the ground, under the blue sky of the North African desert, I wondered why the sky in the zenith was so much darker than on the horizon. Although I didn't know the answer at the time, it turned out it was because in the zenith you can see through the atmosphere, into the dark universe beyond the atmosphere. In the zenith, the atmosphere is thinner than at the horizon.

That’s why the sky at the centre of this picture is very dark. It is the place where the complete darkness of the universe subtly ‘shines’ through the thin layer of the blue atmosphere. The physical principle which causes this effect is called ‘dispersion’.

The picture was taken with a circular fish eye lens, in the North African desert. It is projected on a circular perspex sphere. The sphere is painted with a blue gradient.

The blue sky above me has taken on a whole new meaning since then. It has become like a roof, where I can see the darkness of the universe shining through in the zenith.


Video projection, plastic, wood. 150 x 24 cm
Concept & Realisation: Ief Spincemaille
Painting: Sarah De Vos
Private collection