Asif Khan has unveiled a pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, which is coated in the “darkest substance in the world”, aka Vantablack, to give viewers the impression of gazing into space.
Because Vantablack VBx2 absorbs 99% of light, it is hard for the human eye to make out any depth because no light is reflected back to the viewer. In the absence of color, light and depth, a viewer’s perception of space is transformed from every viewing angle. A 3D building can be rendered completely flat. The exterior of the 35x35m structure has been coated in Vantablack and is illuminated by thousands of tiny white lights, creating the illusion of a “field of stars that appear to float in mid-air” against a “startling black void”.
“From a distance the structure has the appearance of a window looking into the depths of outer space,” Asif Khan said in a statement, “As you approach it, this impression grows to fill your entire field of view. So on entering the building, it feels as though you are being absorbed into a cloud of blackness.”
The building was commissioned by Hyundai Motor as part of its global art initiative, with the pavilion’s space theme aligning with the car manufacturer’s latest technology: a Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle.
Inside the pavilion there is a multi-sensory “water room” installation that disperses 25,000 water droplets per minute, which interact with one another to form a “water landscape” which looks like a city seen from space.
“The water installation visitors discover inside is brightly lit in white. As your eyes adjust, you feel for a moment that the tiny water drops are at the scale of the stars. A water droplet is a size every visitor is familiar with. In the project I wanted to move from the scale of the cosmos to the scale of water droplets in a few steps. The droplets contain the same hydrogen from the beginning of the universe as the stars.”