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Colourful Language

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Slideshow presented to the AIC Language & Colour Study Group at the AIC 2013 Congress at the Sage in Gateshead. The document presents an overview of the research conducted for my MA Graphic Design Major Project, entitled Colourful Language, which used visual methods to investigate the relationship between colour and language. The slides summarise the research question, methodology, conclusion and present a selection of the key visual outputs from the research.

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Colourful Language

  1. 1. Colourful Language AIC CONGRESS 2013 LANGUAGE AND COLOUR STUDY GROUP Eleanor Maclure July 2013
  2. 2. MA Graphic Design Major Project Colourful Language
  3. 3. Introduction
  4. 4. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group “The philosopher Wittgenstein famously asked ‘How do I know that this color is red?—It would be an answer to say: I have learnt English’”. (Batchelor, 2000 pp.91)
  5. 5. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Colourful language is a visual research project that uses design methodologies to explore different aspects of the relationship between colour and language. Introduction
  6. 6. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Introduction
  7. 7. Proposal Outline
  8. 8. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Research Question How We Talk about Colour Exploring the way we use language to describe and define colours.
  9. 9. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Research Question 1. The Names of Colours: Analysis of the body of words used to describe colour, how they can be categorised, their origins, their meanings. 2. The Names of Colours: how do they visually relate to each other. For example how does red relate to pink, maroon or terracotta? How do these colour terms relate to each other in turn? 3. The Names of Colours: The consistency of their application, interpretation, definition and understanding. For example, the variation in how colour terms can be used to label colours and how varying colours can be identified using the same term.
  10. 10. Research Methodology
  11. 11. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Research Methodology A range of methodologies were used to address different aspects of the research question. These developed into sub-projects which were used to explore both the subject and the effectiveness of the process.
  12. 12. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Research Methodology Research methods included: • Interviews • Digital image manipulation • Typologising collected material • Information graphics • Analysing existing bodies of text • Generative systems • Photography • Survey
  13. 13. Outputs
  14. 14. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Outputs Each sub-project became a book, with it’s own internal visual identity. The projects were united using a consistent cover design, creating a series.
  15. 15. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Outputs
  16. 16. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group RED REDSEARCH RESULTS SEARCH RESULTS RED REDPIXELATED PIXELATED REDRED BLURREDBLURRED RED REDCOLOUR AVERAGED COLOUR AVERAGED Outputs
  17. 17. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Outputs
  18. 18. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Outputs
  19. 19. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Outputs
  20. 20. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Outputs Light Sources Type of Light Source Quantity of Light NATURAL DAYLIGHT FLUORESCENT BULBS INCANDESCENT BULBS OTHER DON’T KNOW BRIGHT MEDIUM DIM Viewing Conditions The way we see colour is largely dependent on the quality of light that we view it in. The brightness and temperature of different light sources can vary widely, colours viewed in natural daylight will often look different under energy saving or compact fluorescent lights, for example. This phenomenon is known as metamerism. In order to allow for this discrepancy I asked participants some multiple-choice questions about the lighting conditions they viewed the survey in. Just over half of respondents viewed the survey in artificial light, with an almost equal number split between fluorescent and incandescent sources. The remaining participants viewed the survey in natural daylight, with just under two thirds reporting the light as having medium brightness. 19% of participants said that they had taken the survey in dim light, while 17% said described their light source as bright. This variation is but one of the factors that could have affected how respondents perceived the colour samples in the final sections of the survey. Although it was impossible to control these variables in the process of conducting the survey, it is a greater reflection of how we experience colour in everyday life, where there is potentially even greater variability in the sources and quality of the light that surrounds us. In addition to the quantity and sources of light, participants were also asked what type of computer and screen they viewed the survey on. This was to take into account the fact that different types of screens have slightly different colour gamuts, affecting the way colours are rendered. It would have been possible to extend this line of questioning to ask participants about the brightness and colour calibration of their monitors, however for the purposes of this project that level of detail seemed unnecessary. Sources and quantity of ambient light, type of computer and screen can all affect how we perceive colours in the digital realm. Participants were all asked a series of straightforward questions about how they viewed the survey in order to allow for these factors. 45 respondents did not have English as a first language. 26Different languages were represented in the survey. Is English your first language?What is your Nationality? Language Top 10 Languages Represented 1. Portuguese 2. French 3. German 4 Greek 5. Spanish 6. Welsh 7. Arabic 8. Chinese/Cantonese 9. Japanese 10. Polish YES NO 65% of respondents identified themselves as British or English. 36 Different nationalities took part in the survey. Nationality Top 10 Nationalities Represented 1. British/English 2. American 3. French 4 Portuguese 5. Australian 6. Brazilian 7. Scottish 8. German 9. Greek 10. Japanese ENGLISH/BRITISH OTHER AMERICAN
  21. 21. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Comments “It was obviously not black. It just wasn’t. Black’s not hard to identify. It wasn’t black.” “There were several people in that argument, split about half for green and half for brown. I had a similar discussion about that same colour a few years later with someone else.” “We then discovered my friend was colour blind” “Perception is in the eye of the beholder...” “Sometimes it is difficult to know when one colour ends and another begins - at what point does red become orange? etc” “Blue/green colours often lead to disagreement between people.” “There was a large group of us – over 10, perhaps 20 in this argument at one point. Both names refer to the same hex code in the html specification.” Colour Disagreements The types of objects disagreed about: Was the disagreement resolved in any way? YES NO AGREED TO DISAGREE MEASURED IT/LOOKED IT UP CLOTHING COLOUR PAINT COLOUR CAR COLOUR SOFT FURNISHINGS BOUNDARIES BETWEEN COLOURS OTHER Outputs Pinky purple, Baby pink, Pink, Fuchsia, Fuchsia pink, Magenta, Raspberry, Coral, Crimson red, Blood red, Venetian red, Deep scarlet red, Red, Garnet, Scarlet, Orange, Terracotta, Deep bright yellow, Yellow, Mustard Yellow, Lime green, Forest green, Green, Emerald green, Mint green, Sea green, Turquoise, Tropical blue, Teal, Duck egg blue, Electric blue, Azure, Navy blue, Baby blue, Light blue, Blue, Light indigo blue, Blue grey, Midnight blue, Lilac, Purple, Deep purple, Aubergine, Burgundy, Brown, Dark brown, Black, Grey, White, Beige. THE RANGE OF FAVOURITE COLOURSWHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR? PINK RED ORANGE YELLOW GREEN EMERALD GREEN TURQUOISE BLUE PURPLE BLACK GREY WHITE
  22. 22. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Outputs How does the complexity of colour terms affect our understanding and interpretation of them? How consistent are our responses to colour terms when they are basic as opposed to sophisticated or obscure? Which colour terms are inadequately understood? This set of posters presents a selection of the results from the survey conducted as part of my Major Project, Colourful Language. They seek to demonstrate how our understanding, and therefore interpretation of colour terms breaks down as they become more complex. This is significant because of the hundreds, if not thousands of colour names at our disposal we predominantly resort to the eleven basic colour terms in English, defined by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay in 1969. This poster presents the colours chosen by participants in response to those eleven basic colour terms, as a basis for comparison. Colourful Language Clockwise from the top, the terms used in the survey were: 1. Pink 2. Red 3. Orange 4. Yellow 5. Green 6. Blue 7. Purple 8. Brown 9. Black 10. Grey 11. White How does the complexity of colour terms affect our understanding and interpretation of them? How consistent are our responses to colour terms when they are basic as opposed to sophisticated or obscure? Which colour terms are inadequately understood? This set of posters presents a selection of the results from the survey conducted as part of my Major Project, Colourful Language. They seek to demonstrate how our understanding, and therefore interpretation of colour terms breaks down as they become more complex. This is significant because of the hundreds, if not thousands of colour names at our disposal we predominantly resort to the eleven basic colour terms in English, defined by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay in 1969. This poster presents the colours chosen by participants in response to a set of eleven sophisticated colour terms. Colourful Language Clockwise from the top, the terms used in the survey were: 1. Nude 2. Coral 3. Maroon 4. Puce 5. Mauve 6. Teal 7. Pistachio 8. Khaki 9. Fawn 10. Tawny 11. Taupe Colourful Language How does the complexity of colour terms affect our understanding and interpretation of them? How consistent are our responses to colour terms when they are basic as opposed to sophisticated or obscure? Which colour terms are inadequately understood? This set of posters presents a selection of the results from the survey conducted as part of my Major Project, Colourful Language. They seek to demonstrate how our understanding, and therefore interpretation of colour terms breaks down as they become more complex. This is significant because of the hundreds, if not thousands of colour names at our disposal we predominantly resort to the eleven basic colour terms in English, defined by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay in 1969. This poster presents the colours chosen by participants in response to a set of specifically selected; obscure colour terms. Clockwise from the top, the terms used in the survey were: 1. Alizarin 2. Porphyry 3. Ianthine 4. Periwinkle 5. Cerulean 6. Celadon 7. Citrine 8. Chartreuse 9. Gamboge 10. Cinnabar 11. Greige
  23. 23. Evaluation
  24. 24. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Evaluation • Methodology allowed the exploration of a number of different processe • Greater opportunities for learning and gaining knowledge • Reflects the different facets of colour naming • Survey design could be refined and greater sample size achieved • Contribute to the existing body of work on colour naming • Most successful aspects involved the engagement of other people
  25. 25. Conclusion
  26. 26. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group “Describing colour is more about language than it is about colour” (Batchelor, 2000)
  27. 27. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Conclusion • Investigation doesn’t offer a solution to the problems of colour naming but presents a range of perspectives • Our ability to interpret colours and articulate them with language is part of what makes us human • Colour naming allows us to appreciate the diversity of our language and appreciate the subtle variation in our individual experience of colour
  28. 28. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Conclusion Possible developments of the project include: • Developing the survey and refining the survey questions • Further analysis of the survey results by age, gender and nationality • Mapping colour values for survey responses • Further extension of several of the sub-projects • Repeating the Google Image project over time, and increasing the quantity of images
  29. 29. Bibliography
  30. 30. COLOURFUL LANGUAGE AIC 2013Language and Colour Study Group Bibliography • A full bibliography for the project is available on my blog at: eleanormaclure.wordpress.com/bibliography • All of the outputs produced for the project are hosted on Issuu and can be viewed online at: http://www.issuu.com/eleanorbydesign • PDFs of the documents are also available to download from my blog at: eleanormaclure.wordpress.com/ outcomes/
  31. 31. Colourful Language Eleanor Maclure July 2013 www.eleanormaclure.co.uk eleanormaclure.wordpress.com issuu.com/eleanorbydesign eleanorbydesign@hotmail.com @eleanorbydesign

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