There are so many things that we wish to throw into a black hole, never to be seen again.
Rude people, embarrassing photos from the office Christmas party, the pain you feel when a cat doesn’t meow back? Ugh, why not just throw ourselves into the black hole then. That’ll solve everything, right?
No, it won’t. Because A: running away doesn’t benefit anyone except Usain Bolt. And B: the nearest black hole to our planet is located at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy, which is some 3,000 light years away. Even if you have the brains of Stephen Hawking with Oprah’s bank account and a functioning Millennium Falcon to get there, that’s still a long way to reach the Sagittarius A*.
There is also C: because we don’t know what’s going to happen to us inside a black hole. Maybe we’ll cease to exist, or maybe we’ll turn into a superhero. Let’s not take that chance.
Where reality doesn’t seem to promise much hope, imagination, however, does. From imagination comes art, one of the best methods of escapism aside from burying oneself in layers of blankets hoping that everything will go away.
Let’s explore a few well-known black hole artworks where you can disappear into and still be alive.
With their dream-like installation work topping the Instagram likes chart amongst millennials, Japan-based art collective teamLab has carved quite a name for themselves in the world of interactive digital art. Their main pull – spaces designed to evoke an ethereal setting, by simulating the magic of nature, human life and the universe. Yes, that room filled with dangling crystal lights of changing colours, as seen on Instagram. That’s their work for Future World, a permanent exhibition at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
At the Planets exhibition in Tokyo, one installation plays around the subject of black holes. Titled Soft Black Hole, it’s like a charcoal-infused marshmallow room. Every movement you make inside here affects other people’s experience of being in the space. And vice versa. Like karma but less bitchy and more cosy.
Meanwhile in Thailand, where art is revered much like the beloved late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, an artist by the name of Gongkan has emerged. Born and educated in Bangkok, he also dabbled in the New York art scene for a few years. The resulting mixture of the Eastern emotional and spiritual touch with the modern approach of the Western world is a field of quirky teleportation windows.
Gongkan’s art plays around the idea of transporting subjects through mysterious black holes. In his world, a black hole functions as a means to teleport. Kind of like Doraemon’s Anywhere Door except without a knob to hang the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
The cheeky artist recently made waves with one illustration featuring an almost-kiss between the two current posterboys of world politics, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.
Check out the video below:
In 1915, Russian artist Kazimir Malevich produced an oil painting of a perfect black circle on white background. This iconic piece revolutionised the art world, giving rise to the minimalist art style. Malevich’s black hole may have seemed too simplistic and almost pointless at first glance, but those who had seen it up close recall a certain pulling factor that drew them into the painting. Some even said it provoked a sense of spirituality in its minimalistic way.
Title: Black Circle Artist: Kazimir Malevich Image: Wikimedia Commons
About a hundred years later, Belgian artist and scientist Frederick De Wilde rode on the curiosity behind one of the universe’s most mysterious objects. Inspired by Malevich’s iconic painting, he worked closely with the people at NASA to invent a super black material made from carbon nanotubes (super tiny tubes composed of carbon).
But… isn’t the colour black all the same? Apparently not. De Wilde’s cutting-edge blacker-than-black hue absorbs all frequencies of light. So you can’t make out any lines, any texture, any dust, and any particle in his version of black circle painting. In other words, you really look into nothing.
Think your heart is empty? Try standing in front of this black hole.
Which you can do at the Mimimalism: Light, Space, Object exhibition, ongoing at both the ArtScience Museum and Singapore National Gallery until 14 April 2019.
Also featured at the exhibition is British artist Anish Kapoor’s Void. Much like the two aforementioned artworks, the subject is a black circle. Except that it’s in 3D. A hanging semi-orb, like half an eyeball. A minute of staring into it might clear some noise inside your brains. Ten minutes would probably make your consciousness float. Half an hour in and you might even be travelling between galaxies.
Ridiculous? Maybe. But isn’t that what makes imagination great? Our very own built-in apparatus to escape the mundane.
And perhaps these humanly expressions of one of the universe’s most elusive objects might provide a bit of help.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Japan. Book your tickets now at airasia.com.