web analytics

Blacker than a very black thing indeed


You’ve probably seen this stuff in the news: Vantablack. It’s called “the blackest black.” It’s a coating developed by a company called Surrey Nanosystems made out of teeny nanotubes (I mean, I realize there are no big nanotubes, but bear with me). The thing about these little pigment fragment things is that they’re something like five times longer than they are wide and this, somehow, makes a nest that traps upwards of 98% of the light that falls on them. It gets closer to 100% with every generation.

In practical terms, it means things painted with Vantablack throw back so little light that we simply cannot perceive them as three dimensional. In the still above (taken from this video) a spherical lollipop shape is dragged across a flat shape, both coated in Vantablack, and your eyeballs just cannot deal. Follow the link and look at some of the other videos. It’s very cool.

This has obvious military applications, which is what funded the development, I feel sure. But it has obvious artistic applications, too. And here follows a fun bit of drama.

There’s a London-based artist named Anish Kapoor who works with architects to make those big dreary public sculptures that are, like, simple shapes supposed to be chock full of meaning or some shit. The mirror finish ones are okay; at least they reflect things around them in an interesting way. Anyway, he stepped in and bought the license to Vantablack for art. In other words, only artist Anish Kapoor may use Vantablack.

I can’t imagine many artists would have a use for this stuff, outside the kind of people who paint bullfighters and Elvises on velvet, but that’s just the sort of dick move that pisses off ‘the art community’ to no end.

So there’s this other London artist named Stuart Semple (his art sucks too, by the way) who worked with paint chemists to develop what he calls “the pinkest pink.” Anybody can buy it, except Anish Kapoor. You have to tick a little box that says I am not Anish Kapoor before you can check out.

As security goes, that’s not the strongest, and it wasn’t long before Anish Kapoor posted a picture of his middle finger coated in the pinkest pink.

So yesterday, Semple fired back. He went to his pet paint chemists and they developed what he calls Black 2.0 — not quite as black as Vantablack, but much cheaper, needs no special handling and, most important, available to people who are not Anish Kapoor.

I’m trying to talk myself into buying some (he’s selling it for what it costs to make, in a mad frenzy of virtue signaling). But I can’t imagine I have a use for it. I hated Elvis.

Good weekend, everyone!


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 31, 2017, 8:00 pm

He also sells a thing called The World’s Most Glittery Glitter which is made out of chips of glass (most glitter is plastic and dull).

It sounds like you could do something really cool by combining the glitter and Black 2.0. It also sounds like something I’d inhale and die.

None of his products can be sold to Anish Kapoor.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: March 31, 2017, 8:51 pm

Black 2.0 could be useful in a Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon. 🙂

Diamond Dust glitter: My soon-to-be 5 yr-old granddaughter loves all things that sparkle. I’m thinking maybe a silhouette of her little hand (so to speak) painted in Black 2.0 with the fingernails done in Diamond Dust glitter. On Lucite. One for each of us.

Re: shards of glass. Periodically I wonder what the Clinton campaign did with all that she-broke-the-glass ceiling glass shard confetti that was supposed to fall down from overhead in the big convention center on election night when she won. Not. Maybe I could get some for my granddaughter.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: March 31, 2017, 8:59 pm

I’m thinking UFOs painted in that blackest black, flying at night, over populated areas. At first you would think no one could see them, but that would be wrong. You would see the shape because it blocks out what is behind it.

To be perfectly invisible, you have to duplicate the background behind you.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: March 31, 2017, 9:00 pm

Speaking of hands, how is your hand?
What did the vet say about Jack?

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: March 31, 2017, 9:06 pm

Deborah: Days before the election, the Hillary campaign canceled the fireworks display they were going to have when she won. To me that was an ominous sign. So, maybe they canceled the broken glass ceiling, too?

I hate that phrase glass ceiling. To me it only means wealthy connected women getting even wealthier.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 31, 2017, 9:23 pm

My hand is better, thanks. Still sore and swollen, but less so. It’s my mousin’ hand!

Jack is not himself, though. We don’t know if he’s physically unwell or psychologically unwell because he’s getting his little ass kicked. I think we’ll try keeping him in tonight. Bad Cat doesn’t come around in the daytime.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: March 31, 2017, 9:31 pm

Can you take a cat’s temperature?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 31, 2017, 9:38 pm

Yes. He had a very slight temperature, the vet said, tho Uncle B said the number he quoted didn’t represent an elevated temp.

I am happy to report, they no longer take a cat’s temperature by jamming a thermometer up its butt.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: March 31, 2017, 9:57 pm

My dog was always mildly intrigued by the thermometer up the old butt. 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 31, 2017, 10:24 pm

My cats always screamed like a siren.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: March 31, 2017, 11:33 pm

Understand about Elvis, but couldn’t you instead paint “Dogs Playing Poker”? As an homage to old Mexico before the Wall, of course.

Comment from Elvis
Time: April 1, 2017, 1:41 am

Aww, don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true!

Comment from Veeshir
Time: April 1, 2017, 1:42 am

Deborah HH, that’s the first thing I thought.
Although it might look too much like a darkened tunnel and cause some accidents.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: April 1, 2017, 1:51 am

In college, I had a housemate whose father was a master tinter for a paint company. He said the hardest colors to get right were white and black.

I keep thinking this uber black would have some sort of defense application. I forgot what makes stealth jets stealth but it is some sort of paint.

Legally, I cant see how this guy can prevent people from using this color. You can trademark something and benefit financially, but I never heard of restricting others from using it. Seems contra to commerce which is the purpose of trademarks.

Comment from catnip
Time: April 1, 2017, 3:46 am

Yes, of course you should buy some Black 2.0, unless you feel at risk to being seduced into eating it because of its “yummy” black cherry fragrance.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: April 1, 2017, 2:35 pm

Vantablack paint matters.

Clearly the best application for this stuff is to paint tunnels at the end of roads (probably funded by US tax payer dollars) that for some reason are built to end at the foot of a cliff.

On that note, maybe that’s the paint they use on Nazgul mounts and Balrog armor.
and maybe you’re supposed to yell “Mellon” as you rush up that road that ends at the foot of the cliff (where I’m going to paint the tunnel picture….)

Is Saturday morning too early for stream of consciousness?

Comment from AliceH
Time: April 1, 2017, 2:57 pm

I wish I had some vantablack for this window grille project I’m working on. Diamond grilles, six-side beveled sticks in a diamond pattern. Inside (3 bevel faces) are stained to match the window, outside (3 bevel faces) are painted black. Inside looks fantastic, outside is… a great disappointment. The low-gloss black enamel I’m using doesn’t really “pop” like it should – sort of flat/grayish in some light, or when light reflects off it it looks almost white. Grrr.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: April 1, 2017, 3:04 pm

Durn Yankee,



Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: April 1, 2017, 6:47 pm

Dunno about Elvis-on-velvet, but I could see use for Vantablack in astronomical and spaceship art. It would represent the blackness of space much better than matte black or whatever.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: April 1, 2017, 6:55 pm

@Alice—you might look for a brand of paint named 1-Shot. It’s what sign painters use and the black is densely black. I bought it at a Sherwin Williams paint store (though the brand is not SW—but this store carried a good supply of sign painter supplies. You can probably buy it via the internet now. As I recall it’s oil based.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: April 1, 2017, 9:16 pm

Here’s a real Elvis fan:



Comment from AliceH
Time: April 1, 2017, 10:47 pm

Thank you, Deborah HH. When (if) I ever go back to give these a second coat, I’ll look into using that instead.

Comment from Stephen Falken
Time: April 2, 2017, 5:40 pm

Here is an art themed music video that you might like. Some might recognize it as the tune from the Hulu commercial.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: April 2, 2017, 10:46 pm

Veg – wasted child hood, that still made me smile.

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: April 2, 2017, 11:27 pm

@ Stephen Falken:
That was great!
Lots of artistic and cultural references…. enjoyed it immensely (as have 11,724,833 other YouTubers)

Comment from David Gillies
Time: April 3, 2017, 4:08 am

It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: April 3, 2017, 3:54 pm

Reminds me of a scene in Larry Niven’s [i]Ringworld[/i], as the starship [i]Lying Bastard[/i] approaches one of the super-black “shadow squares” that permit the Ringworld to have day-night cycles.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: April 3, 2017, 4:45 pm

Still waiting for Putin to make a public announcement that they have rounded up the terrorists. They have a photo of at least one and he is rather distinctive looking. Doesnt look like he stuck around to be blown up.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 3, 2017, 8:39 pm

I’m expecting Putin to announce they’ve nuked Mecca.

Comment from Formerly known as Skeptic
Time: April 3, 2017, 9:42 pm

Some Veg,
I think this is the one you’re looking for:

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny