Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Color me emotional

My clothing may usually be black, but my life and the art I love are filled with color. In fact I have collected a number of artworks that seem to me to be almost entirely about how color can create strong emotional effects and connections. The most inspiring examples are a couple of pieces built into my apartment in New York, inspired by the great American artist James Turrell by brilliantly combining lighting with architectural and perceptual know-how. One is a hologram prism of blues, blacks and golds which can only be seen from the side and, in the upstairs ceiling, we have a rectangle of blue infinity. I have never seen anyone stare up into the Turrell without lapsing into a kind of ecstatic trance. As Turrell himself put it, “Seeing is a very sensuous act - there's a sweet deliciousness to feeling yourself see something”. If more brand experiences offered us a “sweet deliciousness”, what a wonderful world it would be.

Here’s a color question for you. What happens when you can’t see color or only see it in a very restricted way? This is the world of the color blind. Because color is impossible to describe, the absence of color is as well. Much about it must remain a mystery, but I was sent a very interesting site that attempts to cross the divide and show how color blind people see the world, and at the same time illuminates the wonders of full-colored sight that we often take for granted. As you can see from the image in this post, color makes huge differences, but as one assumes most color blind people have been so from birth, they no doubt have created their own emotionally rewarding visual palette. In the end the eye sees, the brain assumes and the heart feels. As Picasso put it, “There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun”. No matter what our visual abilities, our imaginations and emotions do the grunt work of giving us pleasure from the things we see.