Mike Pfau

Notes on Color - 2010

Superfical accounts of the Experience of Color

entry #1

Fairly regularly I get migraines, nothing that is painful just hyper-sensitivity to light with a bit of tension in the back of my neck near my optical cortex. I can tell I am getting one because I get a small crescent of obscure iridescent swirling in the near center of my optical field.

The crescent over the course of about 20-30 min. spirals out like cracked glass over my total optical field. I will try and located how this optical phenomena is different in each eye by closing each eye and trying to make out how the pattern changes when I alternate. There is a definite distinction between what I can see and interpret and the undulating web of shifting color across my visual field. Sometime I can't even operate a vehicle or do simple tasks because I can't see through the visual glitch. I sometime interpret what I see as the upper and lower limit of my optical perception, color, form, motion, recognition.

Another interesting thing I noticed is that I canʼt freeze any particular moment of this visual experience, it is constantly in flux. It makes me highly aware my visual continuity.

In the times I want it to stop and I cant get it to stop, I am highly aware of visions involuntary nature. I try using my eyelids to block light thus visual information but can still register the swirling pattern, meaning that it is vision that isnʼt responding directly from external phenomenological stimuli.

entry #2

If I meet anyone new that likes to talk about color, I like to make a drawing for them. It consist of a red apple, orange orange, and yellow banana. I draw these forms with a red and yellow marker using a small dots. I hold the the drawing about 10 ft away and ask the person what do you see, they usually respond a red apple, a orange orange, and a yellow banana. I then bring the drawing close enough so they can hold it and ask them what colors do you see, they usually respond with yellow and red. I then proceed to tell them that they made up the orange that they saw, and so did everyone else in the room. So color is a matter of perception. This doesn't say that it isn't a matter of cultural construct either because the signifier of form of the apple, orange, and banana help in prompting the color of the object and convince the viewer toward the orange being orange.

Notes on Color: Art 100 Mike Pfau Spring 2010

entry #3

I was looking into the sky two days ago and there was a lot of moisture several feet into the air, it was dense enough to break up the sunlight into a spectrum but thin enough to be visually transparent. It got me thinking about the CIE color space through three dimensions. The limitations of mixing the vertex values of a triangle super-imposed on additive CIE color space and then subtractive printing process can't ever present a visual representation on the screen or paper that depicts the actual color of the what the 3-dimensional color space math dictates. Looking at the three dimensional spectrum I was seeing in the fog, I realized that a prism breaking sunlight (one of the wider ranges of electromagnetic radiation) into its spectrum is the truest two dimensional representation of the the CIE mathematics.

Is there ever such a thing as two dimensional color. Color is the reflected light of a object. Where the light comes from, through what, to what, through what, to your eye all influence the color perceived. So prism color projected onto a flat wall isnʼt really a two dimensional rendition of color.

entry # 4
A: What color do you see in that tree over there? B: Yellow.
A: Is it a green yellow or orange yellow?
B: Oranger.
B: It's in that one over there too.

entry # 5

Naming color, reducing it to text and communicating. The experience and then communication of color.

Thing outside of Things will interact if they can and wonʼt if they canʼt, if there are multiple avenues for interaction then some or several will take place. The problem with color is that I feel it has no linguistic truth and cannot be satisfactorily defined in such a way. The color experience exist as is and only is important in the space before we feel the inclination to derive it for communication with others or our future self. Communicated knowledge is inherently removed from direct experience, in its design it is compressed experience, which the text is the situation directly experienced. Color as a concept defined in text is incomplete.

In the same way you cannot give someone your memories and experiences, you cannot share the experience of color. You can describe it to them (create a culture around it) and present them with the thing to experience but sharing the experience is outside of our capacity.

I feel that in todayʼs globalized society, with instant media exchange, and cultures conveyance through the virtual, that the renovation of concepts has begun in order to make them contemporaneously valid for a more diverse society. Some concepts based super the foundations of communication and the network of society can easily be scaled to account for the diversity because the nature of those concepts is based in the methods of societies operations. The culture of color can be seen as the experience of color with-out experiencing it directly. Other concepts and phenomena must be re- assigned a believable guise for society to grapple with it. I see color a one of these phenomena, not intrinsic to the human experience but something that human development was shaped by something our cognitive mind is contained by, and when the point in time became necessary for us to identify color in the mode of communication we did so leaving out what the compression would and was designed to, we only told the story of the color event.

entry # 6
Chromophobia on the 5 freeway.

The city covers up graffiti with matching the repair patches with the same hue of the wall/ground that the graffiti is on. The patches never match.

Some flower are white.
I have an all white cat(non-albino) and he is not deaf.

entry # 7

Color Temperature
Oh these two word together, both mapped by science, but individually subjective. In color temperature we find a concept just as elusive as color. A person living in the desert has a threshold of what s/he considers hot, and a person living in the desert with highly active sweat glands has a different threshold of hot. Now those two people look at the desert landscape with certain colors and someone in the tropics call look over and ocean or lush forest an experience the same physical temperature. Do these associations construct ones notion of color temperature or is it something that is less immediate and more hard wired and visceral, something more reductive and common to collectives of people. The sun gives heat and, ice gives cold, maybe its not about the precise temperature but what the concept gives us, how we react to it. Maybe color temperature is the a matter of being stimulated regardless of the colors cultural associations, maybe warmer colors fire off more optical neurons making our brain more

active, maybe the chemicals released for these temperature of perception correlate to chemicals release when we grab a hot coffee pot, or block or ice.

entry # 8

There is a John Baldessari piece titled “Person with Guitar (Red)” at the Hammer. The piece is a silk-screen of a fairly neutral torso holding a red guitar shape, looks like a Gibson Les Paul. There is a small amount of skin tone, light and dark, but the red guitar seems to be the crux of the piece. One of the questions the bright solid red guitar form canʼt help but to pose is “Is my red your red?” The guitar being a musical instrument, the device that is used to make sound wave into the abstract from which we attempt to bring back and understanding and make meaningful, is to me the same as what color is and what it does. Color is the instrument for the experience, when we hear a guitar playing we can agree that it sounds like other guitars so it might as well be a guitar but what the guitar is playing is different for everyone and canʼt be empirically tested outside a pitch scale and tempo structure.

entry# 9

One of my band clients called me today, apologizing for not be able to get everything together for a photo shoot the previous weekend. Then the conversation turned towards designing graphics for silk-screened t-shirts. He started rattling off words like mannequin, guillotine, and hang man. We embellished a bit on the hangman tangent and when it came near the end he said “ I like the hangman thing, but I donʼt want it to be too grim, add some bright, happy colors or something.” I was given a set of color instructions not based on additive and subtractive coding conventions but as an emotive, subjective system as if I the artist understood the affect of color in some formulaic way. I felt how could I possibly succinctly describe an subjective emotion, with malleable affects, but I knew what he wanted so I told him we could get it done, my confidence derived from knowing my client doesnʼt question color.

entry# 10

I was eating the candy called DOTS. I poured out several into my hand, selected a red and orange one and put the green ones back. I say to my self, I donʼt like the green oneʼs. Do I not really like the flavor of green? Can I not identify the flavor so I classify them by there color? If someone were to offer me some would I say “Iʼll have the red oneʼsʼ but not the lime? Would every person hand me the same DOT if I asked for a red one, what if I asked for the strawberry one. Would they see strawberry as a red fruit and give me a red one or would they know the flavor of strawberries and know the flavor of the red DOT and say sorry we donʼt have strawberry but we do have cherry.