Color-Changing Paint Comes with One Caveat
The ongoing war sparked by the world's blackest black paint has seen another volley, as British artist Stuart Semple has released a new color-changing paint available to anyone—except Anish Kapoor.
Kapoor, a well-known British sculptor, has been banned from using Semple's latest paints, Phaze and Shift, after previously being banned from several of Semple's other product lines.
This conflict between Kapoor and Semple all began when Kapoor brokered a deal with Surrey Nanosystems, the creator of Vantablack —the world’s blackest black—to be the only artist to work with Vantablack. The color had chiefly been marketed for military and aerospace applications previously, and Surrey awarded exclusive rights for a given application.
“Because we didn’t have the bandwidth to work with more than one [artist]—we’re an engineering company—we decided Anish would be perfect,” Ben Jensen, the CTO at Surrey NanoSystems, told Wired. “His life’s work had revolved around light reflection and voids.”
What might work in the industry doesn't necessarily translate in the art world, and neither the artist nor the company could foresee the ensuing backlash.
In response to Kapoor gaining exclusive rights to Vantablack, Semple began a tongue-in-cheek series of product releases that were open to all, except one. Semple banned Kapoor from using his World’s Pinkest Pink, which was part of his line that includes the World’s Greenest Green, the World’s Most Glittery Glitter and a cherry-scented version of Vantablack.
Kapoor responded by obtaining Semple’s pink product and posting a photo to Instagram showing the pigment with a derogatory hand gesture.
"This whole color war has gone too far," Semple said after the incident. "He's hoarding the black to make wristwatches, run off with my Pink and given everyone the finger. We've got a better black now so it's time to bury the hate."
Kapoor insists that Vantablack was not originally created for artistic use.
Phaze and Shift
The newest products from Semple are color-changing paints, Phaze and Shift. Phaze leaves an ultra-matte coat that changes from purple to bright pink when exposed to heat over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Shift can be applied over Semple’s Blackest Black to form a multi-colored, almost iridescent sheen.
The secret behind the paint’s ability to change color? Chiral nematic liquid crystal. Semple has described it as “living substance, more expensive than gold.” The liquid crystal is sold in a bottle of rainbow fluid, which needs to be stored in a refrigerator and shaken once in a while to keep it “alive.”
“Every time I see a new piece of work on the #sharetheblack hashtag I feel so excited, and I know that it proves to Kapoor and the creators of Vantablack that color hoarding and robbing are wrong,” Semple said to Creators.
Semple has, of course, banned Kapoor from using the color-changing coating.
Potential Legal Action
In December of 2016, a spokesperson informed Buzzfeed News that Kapoor had given thought to suing Semple. They noted that “this product is using Anish Kapoor’s name as a promotion tool. We have now put this matter to our lawyers who will take appropriate action.”
On Semple’s online store, the following disclaimer can still be found:
“By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this material will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.”