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The Blackest Black

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Vantablack is know to be the blackest black made by humans. It is substance made of vertically aligned carbon nano tube arrays, that is also where it got it’s name from: Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays. The carbon tubes are grown onto a surface and absorb up to 99,9% of radiation in the visible spectrum, so when light strikes on Vantablack instead of bouncing off, it becomes trapped and is continually deflected among the tubes, eventually becoming absorbed and dissipating into heat.

The material was originally designed for space equipment, its ability to limit stray light makes it ideal for the inside of telescopes. Also a lot of luxury brands try to get their hands on Vantablack to use it in their latest products. Anish Kapoor has exclusively licensed the material for artistic use, which is an extremely cunty move. He says: “it’s effectively like a paint… Imagine a space that’s so dark that as you walk in you lose all sense of where you are, what you are, and especially all sense of time.” Vantablack isn’t a pigment but a material and due to its temperature and physical requirements is not practical for most uses yet.

Vantablack was featured in the last of all acts, act VI Slim (smart) which was about experiments and investigations into futuristic ‘smart’ materials.

What makes me personally intrigued about Vantablack is it’s ability to absorb almost all light which makes you lose your sense of depth completely, you stare into an endless pit of nothing, like looking into a black hole, unfortunately the material was put in a plexiglass box, so instead of looking into the depths of the universe, you are looking at the reflection of your own face. On the positive side by putting it in a box that you can pick up, you can experience how you lose your sense of depth. I’m curious to see how Anish Kapoor will make use of his artistic privilege and hope to get the opportunity to ‘lose all sense’ of where I am and ‘time’.

When I got home and stared writing this text I found out that the material was presented inside a cabin designed by Aliki van der Kruijs, which has a surface that changes it colour depending on the light that falls on it. Just like the Flippo’s I used to collect when I was a kid.



Vantablack display sample 2016. Surrey NanoSystems

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