What looks like a benign 2D circular painting on a museum floor is actually a treacherous 8-feet-deep hole that has already cost a skeptical man a trip to the hospital. This cunning illusion is the work of Anish Kapoor, and it was exhibited at the Serralves Museum in Porto, Portugal under the name, Descent into Limbo.
Art has a way of intriguing us in ways we can't always wrap our heads around, especially when optical illusions are involved.
As tricky as illusions actually get, this one ended up putting someone in real danger.
A man accidentally fell into the deceptive hole which looks like a large peculiar spot on the floor.
The unlucky art lover was a 60-year-old Italian man. Apparently, he was not so convinced that the spot he was seeing was actually a hole.
He decided to step on it to find out the truth, and he ended up falling eight feet to the bottom.
The Man Ended Up In Hospital
Unfortunately for this skeptical man, he has no one but himself to blame. All around the art installation are caution signs as well as a guard whose only job is to keep visitors from accidentally walking into the hole.
An eight-foot drop can do some damage, especially to a man who is already in his 60s. It's hardly surprising that he ended up in the hospital with some injuries.
Here is what a spokesperson for the museum had to say:
"The visitor has already left the hospital and he is recovering well."
This is not the first time Anish Kapoor has tried to make art of void spaces. As a matter of fact, this unique artistic journey began back in 1985.
For those familiar with his work, Descent into Limbo is classic Kapoor. The man is without a doubt capable of this brilliant trickery.
The whole idea is to create an installation that tricks the eye into thinking it's looking at a 2-D painting of a circle when it is actually seeing a real hole.
The Secret Is Vantablack
To pull off this trick, Kapoor uses Vantablack, which is the blackest material known to man.
Vantablack is a non-carbon-based material created by Surrey NanoSystems, a British company, in 2014. It absorbs a mind-blowing 99.965 percent of all visible radiation.
Not everyone can get their hands on Vantablack since it's classified as a dual-use material. However, given his artistic bent, Kapoor made sure he did.
As per the company, the use of Vantablack:
"…requires a specialist application to achieve its aesthetic effect… the coating's performance beyond the visible spectrum results in it being classified as a dual-use material that is subject to UK Export Control."
Kapoor is hardly the only professional to use Vantablack to create unbelievable aesthetic effects. A British architect, Asif Khan, sprayed a building wall in Pyeonchang in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games with Vantablack to create the illusion of starry dark space.
By using Vantablack, Kapoor was able to make the depth of the hole invisible since no one can see any contours or curves. As far as the eyes are concerned, there is nothing to see but a dark circle on the ground.
The man's fall helps prove that this material does its job pretty well.
However, the accident has had an impact, as the museum had to temporarily close Descent into Limbo. It only opened once new safety precautions were put in place to ensure more art lovers did not tumble into the hole.
Hopefully, other visitors to the museum will take the warnings seriously and avoid the temptation to step on the seemingly harmless 'circle'.