Spooky Action At A Distance, Visualized

The new art installation Spooky Action is like the cover of Dark Side of the Moon brought to life.

Einstein famously rebuffed “spooky action at a distance,” or the theory that particles physically separated by great distances can impact one another. In 2015, researchers at the Delft University of Technology conducted an experiment that proved the existence of Quantum Entanglement (and that Einstein was wrong). Fascinated by the newfound knowledge, The Principals, an experimental design studio in Brooklyn, riffed on this scientific discovery for an installation at Coming Soon, a boutique in Manhattan.


“The proof of spooky action at a distance alludes to deeper levels of perception than we have yet to attain; forces that are acting and affecting our world in ways we have only barely begun to understand,” Drew Seskunas, a co-founder of The Principals, says. “This revelation inspired us to create a spatial experiment that could allude to the complex level of interaction that coalesces into the world that we perceive around us, and to tease out threads of those lines and allow them to unravel and demystify their complexities.”

Spooky Action is composed of 15 high-powered light beams that shine through 10 prisms, which are set on motors and rotate. The prisms pull apart the different light waves and project a kaleidoscopic array of hues on a broad canvas screen.

“We felt that light transmission was a perceptible approximation of the forces of interaction that Quantum Entanglement references,” Seskunas says. “Light transmission through prisms—via a phenomenon called ‘Total Internal Reflection’—is how fiber-optic cables function, and a vast majority of the world’s information is transmitted over the internet using fiber optics. For our ode to Quantum Entanglement, we created an entangled mini cosmos of light beams projected across an arcing canvas, moving in seemingly random formations in constant oscillation between construction and desolation.”

You could say it’s like becoming immersed in a Pink Floyd album cover—but way trippier. Who knew dense scientific theory could be so beautiful? The installation is open until mid January at Coming Soon, 87 Orchard Street, New York, NY.

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.