Vantablack is the blackest thing there is, next to an actual black hole, out of which no light at all can escape. It’s the world’s blackest black, invented by a British company called Surrey NanoSystems in 2014.
Vantablack is essentially a substance made of tiny carbon tubes 3500 times narrower than the diameter of a human hair, which absorbs 99.965% of light. It’s so dark, any surface treated with Vantablack seems to vanish into a gaping void of darkness.
It was originally invented with satellite technology and space study in mind, and it will make it possible to see further into the universe than ever before. Apart from the serious stuff, however, its invention opened up a world of design potential, from the sublime to the ridiculous: it has spawned a couple of watch designs, a pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, a weird deodorant advert, the world’s darkest room, created especially for gamers to play Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4 and the mother of all artworld controversies….
British sculptor Anish Kapoor bought the exclusive rights to use the substance for art in 2016. Apart from the question of whether anyone can ultimately own darkness, whatever Kapoor makes of it – simply that is an interesting enough question…