Experiencing Colour

Colour has always fascinated me. I am sure it was all of those spectacularly colourful prairie sunsets that I would watch as a kid. The amazing transition of the sky from daytime blue to oranges and reds, then to purples and finally the dark of night. Watching the day turn to night was my first lesson on the unstable nature of colour. Colour can never be see individually. You cannot just see red, or blue, or purple. There is always another colour nearby that will influence how that colour emerges into perception.

A great example is the above picture from Josef Albers’ book Interaction of Colour. The two squares are actually the same colour but the colours neighbouring them affect how they come to be seen. The square on the left appears darker than the right one. They cannot escape the relations they keep with the other colours.

The interaction of colour is not a new phenomenon, but it is still a fruitful area of study.
I think there is more to be said in terms of the experience and contrast, which is why my current research is focusing on these ideas.

In the video, “Can You Trust Your Eyes,” you can see how particular juxtapositions of  colours can change how they are perceived.


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