Is black something or nothing? This question can lead to endless discussions. Black is a utopia, a search for the truth and for something absolute. Many artists claim to have created the blackest of blacks, like Anish Kapoor and Frederik De Wilde. In general we accept that black is the darkest colour. There are, nevertheless, many nuances to ‘the darkest’. We say that black is both a colour and not a colour: it lies outside the colour spectrum because of the absence of light. So what is black? In everyday life we experience black as a colour, for example in clothing or in a piece of furniture. At the same time we experience that no single object is really black. We can only observe an object when a (little) light is reflected upon it. That is why black never seems to be completely black. When something is really black, it absorbs all the light and we cannot see it. The universe also seems to be black. An Onghena directs her attention to this infinite blackness, this infinite unattainable mass. What is this black that we observe? Where does it stop? What comes after black? Is it really black? Scientists have shown that if you mix the whole universe in one pot, you get a kind of beige. This average colour is called Cosmic Latte. We can ask the same questions about black holes. According to certain theories, nothing, not even light, can escape from a black hole. But how can we comprehend this? What does it comprise? What happens when you fall into a black hole? What comes after? To represent these questions and thoughts, Onghena started researching all the kinds of black she could find — with one condition: these blacks should be printable. This way she would determine a system of specific parameters for the colour black. The three most important aspects of print are paper, ink and printing techniques. It is not a quest for the blackest or the best kind of black. It is an examination of different manifestations of black, of interesting blacks and the meanings and compositions of black. It is a work that will probably never be finished. By using a few parameters, Onghena printed drawings of acoustic vibrations. These vibrations do not exist in space: out there, sound functions completely differently. In outer space we have to forget everything we are familiar with and adjust to the laws of a new territory. The vibrations were self-printed with a RISO technique in four different ways at the Charles Nypels Lab of the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. In every copy of this TYPP you will find: a print with CMYK on 100g EOS 2.0 paper, a print with CMYK on 120g Munken Lynx Rough paper, a print with 100% black on 100g EOS 2.0 paper, and a print with 100% black on 120g Munken Lynx Rough paper. The prints clearly resulted in four different blacks. As a whole, they can be interpreted as a series of prints or as independent works. Within this publication, they will be transformed by the blackness of the opposite page; taken out, they will be transformed by daylight, and by the contrast with their new environment. They function as a starting point for an infinite research project into blackness. Onghena’s aim is to let this work evolve into a major study of a huge spectrum of blacks. On a conceptual level, this work is precisely framed, but it engenders a discussion and an atmosphere of mystery. Onghena does not simply want to conduct research into the colour black, but also into its composition — out of CMYK, the golden ratio, different grids, and so on.

Blacking out on Black Holes • By Hanne Van Dyck and An Onghena 


Different perspectives on the earth.
Drone photograpy - Silkscreen

Researching black: 
CMYK on 100g EOS 2.0 paper
CMYK on 120g Munken Lynx Rough paper
100% black on 100g EOS 2.0 paper
100% black on 120g Munken Lynx Rough paper.