‘Kaalink’ sounds like an empty spray can falling on the ground, but it’s also the name of an onomatopoeic device that collects soot directly from a car’s exhaust pipe. Once captured, the fine particles are put through a pigment extraction and carbon purification process to harvest Air-Ink – the world’s first ink made out of air pollution. The device was originally invented at MIT’s Media Lab but it was Indian startup Graviky who were clever enough to devise the ink and then get it funded on Kickstarter.
Air-Ink pens (made from a couple of hours of diesel car pollution) and spray cans (approx. 30 hours) were used back in ‘16 to champion art from the streets of Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district in a mural project collaboration with a formidable lineup of artists including Bao Ho, Lei Lei, Caratoes and Calvin Ho. Ink has survived as a prominent medium of expression across cultures for thousands and thousands of years, so it seems fitting that Air-Ink are using it to enhance the streets of Singapore in ways you can both see and feel.