British sculptor Anish Kapoor has earned a reputation for his mind-bending artwork but it seems that one of his most recent pieces was a bit too convincing for one unsuspecting visitor. He fell into it.
The piece in question is Kapoor's Descent into Limbo – a name that may hit a little too close to home for said visitor. The optical illusion resembles a 2D circle straight out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon on the surface. In reality, it is a three-dimensional void 2.5 meters (8 feet) deep coated in an intensely dark black pigment that absorbs virtually all light.
It is currently on display at the Serralves Museum in Portugal, where a 60-year-old Italian tourist had the unfortunate run-in on Monday. According to reports, there were caution signs and staff guarding the hole so exactly how the accident happened is a little uncertain – especially as he went to the museum to see that very exhibit. The good news is that, after a brief stint in a hospital, the man is "recovering well".
Meanwhile, at the museum, staff had to temporarily close the exhibit and install new safety measures.
The pigment that gives the void its peculiar shade may be vantablack, described as the "world's blackest black", which Kapoor secured the rights to back in 2016. Unsurprisingly, this effort by one artist to monopolize a color caused a furor in the art world and even sparked a color war between the "blackest black" and the "pinkest pink".
Vantablack is a recent invention, created by a British manufacturing company called NanoSystem in 2014 for scientific and military uses rather than artistic expression. It is able to absorb 99.6 percent of light, making it look as though a dimension-hopping hole really has been cut out of the universe. How? you might ask. It is so absorbent because it comprises tiny microscopic stems of color 300 times taller than they are wide. The result is that not even the light of a laser is visible when shone on the color.
But vantablack might not be the problem here. Descent into Limbo was first made and exhibited in 1992, more than 20 years before the discovery.