COCOA COZY DARKNESS

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My screen turned warm glowing orange again.

Some time ago, I had installed a programme called flux on my laptop. It influences the screen colour to change throughout the day, from white light to yellow sunset, which should primarily help me to reconnect to my natural clock while working on a screen. Now, in the short days of a starting year the programme kept on frustrating me. It simply felt more effortful, trying to work with focus into the evening hours, while my screen was telling me to snuggle into its orange ambient. This afternoon, I had delayed the programme’s functioning two times already, for an hour each.

Now, the third restart of flux later, my resistance was broken. Following the thought, that falling into a bit of hibernation once in a while would be good to enhance the euphoria of an approaching summer, I closed my laptop.
It felt as if an imaginary orange cloud blanket had formed around my skin. It pulled me towards more comfort.

I left the studio and walked straight into the grey wall of a foggy London evening.
It was a grey I certainly didn’t want to exchange against my orange bubble. I would have to undertake some steps in order not to succumb the grey and carry the right atmosphere into my night.

I do have an idealised version of cozy. I somehow link it to one of my childhood picture books, the Polar Express. It’s a book that makes me want to slip into most of its drawings. Looking into the book, for me, is like staring into a fireplace. Somehow the rough grain pictures are constructed in a way that each image leaves tactile soft sensations in my memories. While being a book for children, still today, an incredibly gentle world shapes around me whenever I open its pages.

In the story, a young boy is woken up in the middle of the night by helpers of Santa Claus. They pull him onto a magical train which carries him through the night and a soft icy landscape. The feeling of the train becomes one of a separate world – comfortably filled with soft upholstering, the warmest coloured light and sleepily excited children in their pyjamas.

And on top of that, there are friendly chefs crossing the train, giving out steaming cups of deep orange chocolaty glowing cocoa.
I am convinced cocoa itself has a glowing atmosphere worth diving into. It’s more obvious, that holding my face into the steam of hot liquid drinking chocolate makes me a hermit of my senses, but something similar happens even if I look into the raw powder made from cocoa beans. It somewhat absorbs me and I feel a similar sensation. I find it comparable to stroking through velvet, full of depth between its grains I could sink into the point of contact.

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On this particular evening Cocoa would have the properties to cancel out the grey and become the atmospheric blanket of tonight.

The thoughts about drinking chocolate filled me with excitement and the smell of roasted cocoa, melting into gooey hot chocolate, seemingly filled my nose. Within my food pantry I did have three types of cocoa powder to choose from. The most supreme type was probably the one my girlfriend owned. It carries the subtitle “super food”, which is

apparently not only linked to its super high price, but also to its more complicated manufacturing. An entirely cold processing from fruit into powder seemed to lead to more healthy attributes of the product.
Believe it or not, I would not waste her expensive matter for a drinking chocolate I would toss and turn atop the flames of my gas stove

Tonight, I was left with the choice between two kinds, more commonly used. There was “natural cocoa” and “dutch processed cocoa”. From baking with both of them I knew they had different properties due to their difference in PH values. This is also reason for a difference in colour between the two.

Natural Cocoa is acidic, so it actually tastes sour and is rather bright in colour, brownish if not even red.
If in 1821, Abraham Werner had referred to Cocoa powder in his colour study ‘Nomenclature of colour’, he must have looked at this one when he coined the phrase “Chocolate red”.

Dutch processing of Cocoa makes it less sour and more alkaline and meanwhile turns it darker in colour. Cocoa powder, as dark as dark chocolate is linked to a raise in PH value.

I do love this darkness.
The Dutch processing almost transforms the cocoa into a shadow, a soft shaped colourful shadow inviting through its roasted delicious smell to snuggle into its surrounding.
Hella Jongerius, the Dutch colour Designer had a show in the Design museum in London. One part of her exhibition had been dedicated to the colourful shadows of evening and night.
Magically glowing, she had exhibited these shadows coming from nightly volumes. Objects and surfaces in Ultramarine, deep forest green, Ruby red, Aubergine purple and night sky blue filled the space with a vacuum that invited to stare.

With her series of Colourful Black, into which I definitely would place the depth of Dutch processed cocoa, she aimed to remind the colour industry, that darkness can be intriguing and complex. She proposes a layered application of colours, contrasting the widely used industrial way of darkening inexpensively with Carbon black, that leads to a product world coated in flat tints.

Jongerius carefully observes and states, “[..] although an objects shadow may appear grey or black, it is a complex mix of the colours that surround it.”

When I stare into powdered cocoa I feel like looking into complexly layered shadows. It is not only its rich colour but also its surface. Each powder granule throwing its own shadow that then melts into bigger and deeper volumes of shadow, thrown by accumulated granules and the total volume itself.

I could relate these shadows to the darkness in a wooden house lit in Chimney fire. Cocoa’s cozy darkness is one that knows how to suck me into its surface.

Also the India born artist Anish Kapoor, has been obsessed with darkness and its absorbent sensation. Next to a range of works that try to grasp the stunning effect of deep shadow blue and dark pigmented red, he also stepped into collaboration with a company that creates what has been announced the ‘blackest black’. They make their black the most black through techniques of Nano engineering.

I find it incredible to hear how they are engineering so called “Vantablack”. According to some information I found on it, they are capable of manipulating Nano particles that are

300 times as high as their width to stand up straight. The colour then turns so fantastically dark, because light falls into the shadows of this miniature architecture and loses itself.

Kapoor says that darkness attracts us because it relates to the moment of closing ones eyes and being in a space with oneself.
Was that the longing I was searching for tonight?

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Images: CHRISTOPH DICHMANN

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