Color: A Multidisciplinary Approach PDF by Heinrich Zollinger

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Color: A Multidisciplinary Approach

By Heinrich Zollinger

Color A Multidisciplinary Approach

Contents

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

1.1. What Do We Mean by Color? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

1.2. Historical Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Physics of Light and Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

2.1. The Nature of Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

2.2. Color by Refraction: Newton’s Experiments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

2.3. The Rainbow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

2.4. Peacock’s Colors: A Phenomenon of Interference . . . . . . . . . . 28

2.5. How Many Causes of Color Do We Know? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Chemistry of Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

3.1. History of Colorants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

3.2. Inorganic Pigments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

3.3. Organic Colorants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

3.4. Correlations between Chemical Structure and Color . . . . . . . 56

Colorimetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

4.1. Colour Measurement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

4.2. Color: Harmony or Contrasts? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

How Do We See Colors? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

5.1. Perception and Cognition of Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

5.2. Anatomy of the Human Eye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

5.3. Photochemistry in the Retina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

5.4. What the Eye ‘Tells’ the Brain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

5.5. Psychophysical Investigations into Color Vision . . . . . . . . . . . 103

5.6. Color Vision in Animals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112

How Do We Name Colors? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

6.1. From Color Chemistry to Color Linguistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

6.2. The Phenomenon of ‘Human Language’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

6.3. Categorization of the Color Space by Color Naming . . . . . . . 127

6.4. Color and Phonological Universals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136

6.5. Influence of Culture on Color Naming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

Color in Art and in Other Cultural Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161

7.1. Color in European Art from Antiquity to Gothic . . . . . . . . . . 161

7.2. From Renaissance to Neo-Impressionism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175

7.3. Color in Twentieth-Century Art . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188

7.4. Color in the Art of Non-European Cultures:

The Case of Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

7.5. Color in Psychology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207

7.6. Goethe’s Zur Farbenlehre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212

7.7. Sound – Color Synesthesia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220

Epilogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233

Name Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245

Subject Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249

Introduction

1.1. What Do We Mean by Color?

The world of color. Who is not attracted, fascinated, and even enchanted by it? Obviously painters,and artists in general. Many scientists too:among them biologists, interested in colors in the living world, mineralogists in the inorganic world, and the physicists and chemists who investigate color’s scientific basis. In one of current-day scientific research’s most exciting fields, molecular biologists, physiologists, neuroscientists, and ophthalmologists cooperate in unraveling the sensation of color vision; the processing of color stimuli in the eye and in the brain, as well as in psychological reactions. Culturally conditioned behavioral patterns, such as color naming, are of great interest to linguists, psychologists, anthropologists, and artists. And amateur enthusiasts and hobbyists also find themselves attracted in considerable numbers to one or more of these branches of the world of color.

Color, therefore, is a highly multi-faceted phenomenon in nature, biology, and culture. This is already evident in the term ‘color’. ‘Colours speak all languages’, wrote essayist Joseph Addison in 1712, while in our own time (1968) James Gibson commented that ‘the meaning of the term color is one of the worst muddles in the history of science’. Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary (1994) lists 24 different meanings for the noun ‘color’ and five for the verb. There are meanings related to physics (light, emission, absorption, spectrum, coloration etc.) and to our perceptual response to such physical effects. Yet ‘color’ is also used in the context of many phenomena bearing no relationship to the physics of color,primarily for perceptual effects of other senses in non-visual human cultural activities such as music, poetry, and fiction.

The range of meanings of the term color is, therefore, much larger than would appear at first sight. It is not the same in all cultures, however. In English and German, it is ambivalent with respect to the achromatic colors black, white, and gray. There is indeed a physical difference between chromatic and achromatic colors (see Fig. 4.1),but both, viewed physically, are colors.Yet linguistic tests in these languages demonstrated that some science students who served as subjects did not include black, white, and gray in their color vocabulary ‘because they are not colors’.

The Japanese view the situation differently, as the following episode demonstrates. When color television was introduced in Japan,the Japanese did not translate that expression literally (iro no terebi), but used the wording tennenshoku terebi (‘natural television’).Black and white television is considered by the Japanese to be a two-color process, rather than a colorless one.Tennenshoku terebi has in recent years,however,more and more come to be replaced by the internationalized term color terebi1. An analogous development took place for the translation of color photographs (tennenshoku shashin).

There are also some languages, such as the Austronesian language Mbula, which have terms for specific colors, but no word for color itself. There is an enormous variety of meanings for terms related to color, particularly for terms of specific colors, hues, and shades. Reasons of space preclude any comprehensive discussion of the realm of ‘colorfulness’ (but see Chapts. 6 and 7 for specific aspects). By coincidence, two books with almost identical titles were published in New York within eighteen months of one another. The first was The Primary Colors2 by Alexander Theroux, followed by the anonymously penned Primary Colors3.

‘Primary colors’ is a well-established term in color science and in art (see Sects 4.1, 4.2, 7.2, and 7.3, and also Chapt. 8). It means a set of colors from which all other colors may be obtained by mixing; normally red, yellow, and blue for subtractive mixing and red, green, and blue for additive mixing (see Sect. 4.1). Theroux’s book does fit this definition, consisting of three essays on cultural and other aspects of blue, yellow, and red. The title is also appropriate for the other book, a novel in which every person and every situation looks like someone and somewhere in the real world. A thinly disguised retelling of President Bill Clinton’s 1992 primary election campaign, the book has as its hero Jack Stanton, governor of an unnamed small southern state. The author, political reporter Joe Klein, who covered Clinton’s campaign for New York magazine, was able to preserve his anonymity for half a year after publication. Primary Colors is, of course, a much more attractive and succinct title than, say, the more precise but less colorful Colors in the Primary Elections would make. These works aside, however, there are only a few relatively recent books about color, covering several aspects of the topic4–9.

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