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Colour (Krems)


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Colour (Krems)

  1. 1. sean cubitt • donau-krems A genealogy of colour
  2. 2. olour is the optical effect in the human perceptual apparatus of specific electro-magnetic wavelengths between roughly 400 and 800 nanometres. The cells that form the retinal wall are neurons, part of the brain. Light passes through the yellow-filtering cornea, the lens and the aqueous humour between them, through the vitreous humour filling the eyeball, and finally through a layer of transparent cells to reach the rhodopsin-laden light- sensitive rods and cones. The rods are sensitive to dim light with maximum sensitivity to wavelengths of 510 nanometres, corresponding to blue-green perceived colour. The cones are only active in brighter light. There are three types of cone, in the ratio of roughly 12:6:1, sensitive to long, medium and short wavelengths, though there is considerable overlap in sensitivities between the medium and long wavelength cones, corresponding to our perception of yellow, which appears the brightest colour. There are 120 million rods and 7 million cones in each retina, in concentrations as dense as 150,000 photoreceptors per square millimetre (Fairchild 2005: 11). Surprisingly, the activity of nearly 130 million rods and cones is passed through only a million ganglia to the optic nerve. This appears to be explained by the interconnection of rods and cones in intervening layers of horizontal, bipolar and amacrine cells which process the differences between neighbouring photoreceptors as well as their direct signal, giving us an acute visual sense of things moving before our eyes. The optic nerve, formed of axons from the ganglion cells, passes the signal to an area of the thalamus, which then sends them on to at least thirty areas of the cortex, each of which bounces its data to and fro among the other visual processing areas. At this juncture, the current state of brain science allows very little further definite knowledge. Colour perception occurs in a fantastically complex interchange of electrochemical messaging between brain cells, processing which involves memory (for example of the presumed colour of objects, even when seen under different light conditions) and other specialised forms of recognition C
  3. 3. Ochre pigments clays with naturally occur- ring mineral coloration
  4. 4. JanvanEyck,“TheArnolfiniDoubleProtrait”(akaTheArnolfiniWeddding) oilonpanel,1434,NationalGalleryLondon
  5. 5. Ultramarine prepared from crushed lapis lazuli
  6. 6. Isaac Newton, sketch of experiment with prism, 1672
  7. 7. ColourWheelfromGoethe’sColourTheory(ZurFarbenlehre),1810
  8. 8. newton: colour as object Goethe: colour as perceptionPhilipp Otto Runge. Farben-Kugel (Color sphere). 1810
  9. 9. CIE LAB colour space 1931
  10. 10. 18-year-old William Perkin synthesises first aniline mauve dye in his bedroom in Shadwell in 1856 synthetic colour
  11. 11. ArthurHughes“AprilLove”1856
  12. 12. When you look at colors, the intuitions of fantasy, in contrast to the creative imagination, manifest them- selves as a primal phenomenon . . . the color seems to hover suspended above the objects. Their magic lies not in the colored object or in the mere dead color, but in the colored glow, the colored brilliance, the ray of colored light Walter Benjamin, ‘A Glimpse Into the World of Children’s Books’, Selected Writings, vol 1, 1913-1926, 442-3. Schutzeinrichtungen (Butterlies, Moths, caterpillars), Chromolithograph, published by Joseph Meyer, Meyers Konversations 1894
  13. 13. Ali Baba, Pathé Frères, 1905
  14. 14. Blue sensitive layer Yellow Filter Green sensitive layer Red sensitive layer Yellow dye in colourless layer Bleached colourless layer Magenta dye in pale yellow layer Cyan dye in pale pink layer Blue sensitive layer Yellow Filter Green sensitive layer Red sensitive layer White bacing paper Blue dye in colourless layer Bleached colourless layer Green dye in colourless layer Red dye in colourless layer White backing paper Colour film Colour print Colour negative Printing paper Light from scene White light from enlarger Coloured light from negative Processing Developing Photographic film contains three light-sensitive layers, each sensitized by dyes to one of the three additive primary colors [BGR in order of their proximity to the light source]. A yellow filter protects the green- and red-sensitized layers from stray blue light. To form the negative, coloured dyes in yellow, magenta and cyan are subsituted for the silver particles formed by the action of light. To make a print, a three-layer film is exposed through the negative, and blue, green and red dyes are asdded to the exposed areas. (Source: Ball, Philip (2001), Bright Earth:Art and the Invention of Color, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York: 290) How Colour Film Works
  15. 15. ccd chip and bayer mask
  16. 16. LCD sub-pixel
  17. 17. Typical colour gamuts mapped to the CIE LAB diagram
  18. 18. It is, however, just this ultimate money-form of the world of commodities that actually conceals, instead of disclosing, the social character of private labour, and the social relations between the individual producers. When I state that coats or boots stand in a relation to linen, because it is the universal incarnation of abstract human labour, the absurdity of the statement is self-evident. Nevertheless, when the producers of coats and boots compare those articles with linen, or, what is the same thing, with gold or silver, as the universal equivalent, they express the relation between their own private labour and the collective labour of society in the same absurd form. Karl Marx, Capital Volume One, chapter 1 COMMODITY FETISHISM
  19. 19. biopolitics I would say that discipline tries to rule a multiplicity of men to the extent that their multiplicity can and must be dissolved into individual bodies that can be kept under surveillance, trained, used, and if need be, punished. And that the new technology that is being established is addressed to a multiplicity of men, not to the extent that they are nothing more than their individual bodies, but to the extent that they form, on the contrary, a global mass that is affected by overall processes characteristic of birth, death, production, illness, and so on. So after a first seizure of power in an individualizing mode, we have a second seizure of power that is not individualizing but, if you like, massifying, that is directed not at man-as-body but at man-as- species. After the anatamo-politics of the human body established in the course of the eighteenth century, we have, at the end of that century, the emergence of something that is no longer an anatamo-politics of the human body, but what I would call a “biopolitics” of the human race. Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 242-3
  20. 20. Simon Payne, Colour Bars (2004, 8mins, colour, silent)
  21. 21. The great masculine renunciation