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AN OLYMPIC VOID

A Vantablack art installation in Pyeongchang creates a stunning visual illusion

Arielle Ray
By Arielle Ray

Art director / Video journalist

In the middle of Pyeongchang sits the Hyundai Pavilion, an art installation by Asif Khan that seems to swallow the light around it. It’s painted with Vantablack VBx2, a paint by Surrey Nanosystems that absorbs 99% of light. (It is not the original Vantablack, which you might remember, was exclusively copyrighted by the artist Anish Kapoor. This derivative is similar, but not the same. In the original Vantablack, 99.96% of light is absorbed.)

Regardless, both paints work in the same basic way. Tiny nano-structures in the paint trap light inside and convert them to heat, resulting in the building’s void-like appearance. Khan’s pavilion is temporary structure that was created just for the 2018 Olympic games.

photo by Luke Hayes
photo by Luke Hayes

While it looks flat, the structure is actually curved; the optical illusion is caused by the ultra-dark paint. The sides are studded with rods of varying lengths that have lights affixed to them, creating the appearance of stars.

The visual effect is stunning. It looks like a little piece of outer space exists here on Earth. Watch the video above to learn more about the pavilion.

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