February 18


Green with envy

Purple with rage

Seeing red

Happenstance led me to the BBC Radio 4 Technicolour programme while I was travelling the other week and I have since listened to the whole series. A set of short broadcasts it explores various aspects of our understanding of, and relationship to colour, covering:

  • Vision
  • Naming
  • Feeling
  • Making
  • Selling

The broadcasts cover everything from colour blindness to the environmental impact of the dye trade. During one interview with an interior designer she said:

Nature creates harmonious colours…nature doesn’t get it wrong.

I found this an interesting observation as it was primarily nature that I used in creating the photos for my assignment that required harmony between similar colours.

While this wasn’t a visual experience as such the debate around the socially constructed nature of colour is fascinating, in particular the notion of how or if language affects our perception of colour. I hadn’t realised if but apparently the first word we had for a colour was red, followed by green and yellow and finally blue. I also discovered that the Russian language includes more words for blue than English and psychologists are now studying whether this means that Russian people see colour differently to people with English as their first language.

It also seems that there are some women who have ‘super’ colour vision, these so called Tetrachromats can see four distinct ranges of color, instead of the three that most of us live with. If you are based in the North of England visit the BBC website to find out if you have this superpower!

If you didn’t manage to catch it the series is well worth tracking down on the BBC iPlayer.

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Posted February 18, 2013 by Dawn Langley in category "AoP Research