Carbon black




Main ingredients

Carbon black

The Colour of Air

Carbon black is the main component of fine Particulate Matter (PM), produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels across homes, industry and transport. As smog it obscures visibility and is the main cause of air pollution.

Despite the introduction of diesel filters in the western world decades ago, our polluted environments still remain a constantly growing problem. People living near busy streets, pedestrians and cyclists all suffer from the smog pollution risking cancer, asthma and heart diseases.

Drawing on the idea of ancient Egyptians, who used the carbon black from candles to produce ink, The Colour of Air filters PM from car exhausts to produce (PM-LEAD) for pencils, and (PM-K) ink for screen printing posters, as well as permanently dying an outdoor sports outfit (PM-DYE). Smog becomes wearable, touchable and visible to people who, unknowingly, inhale it every day.

The carbon black was collected by emptying ceramic exhaust filters, which were taken directly from diesel cars. The collected material was then treated and bound in different ways to be used for the according purpose:
- in printing paste to allow the posters to be screen printed
- with wax and clay, which was baked after to create a solid material for the pencil leads
- in a chemical used for dying fabrics, which was later applied to the garments with a heat press

Text submitted by the maker

Ingredient list

Particulate matter filtered from diesel exhausts.

Photo credits

Tino Seubert

Physical samples

0092-1, 0092-2
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab