Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Science of Colour - Delivered by The Colour Group

On Thursday night I attended an event at Science Central called The Science of Colour. It was delivered by Colour Group (Great Britain), an interdisciplinary society, drawing together people interested in all aspects of colour – its perception, measurement, reproduction and artistic expression.

Dr Carinna Parraman from the Centre for Fine Print Research, spoke about her work with 2.5D printing at the University of the West of England, Bristol. 2.5D printing connects emerging interests in the technical, creative and physical approaches to practice. The process explores capturing, modelling and the application of textured marks that emulate the textured appearance of materials.

Valerie Bonnardel asked the question 'are the associations between words and colour arbitrary, or is there structure?'

She discussed colour as a sign:

There are 3 types of referential associations:

1. ICON - relation of (physical) similarity e.g. yellow = sun

2. INDEX - relation of contiguity (a series of things in continuous connection)

- signal - appears before the event e.g. dark sky gives warning of thunderstorm

- clue - remains after the event e.g. a handprint

- symptom - happens at the same time as the event e.g. leaves change colour as the seasons change

3. SYMBOLIC - relation of conventionality e.g. colours in flags

Dr Gabriele Jordan from the Colour Neuroscience Department at Newcastle University discussed her research into the superpower 'Tetrachromatic Colour Vision', answering the question "Is the red I see the same as the red you see?" by exploring psychophysics, gender differences and colour blindness.

Danny Garside ended the event with his presentation about how we make judgements about lighting. Colour and light are intrinsically linked, and both play a crucial role in how we perceive and 'enjoy' the places and spaces around us. 

What do we mean by 'good light'?

We judge the quality of light in two ways:

1. Based on usefulness - which is scene dependent e.g. is the lighting in a library suitable for reading?

2. Based on aesthetics - which is subjective

Danny proposed different factors that we consider when thinking about the quality of light

- intensity

- direction

- distribution

- temporal (does the light flicker?)

- colour

Different colours of light have been found to be most suitable for different activities. For example,

Blue light is good for working

Orange light is good for relaxation

These findings can be put to good use, for instance using orange lighting in bedrooms to help people sleep.

Danny demonstrated how we have a tendency to be affected more by changes in certain light colours than others, and this depends on the type of image we are looking at.

It was a thought provoking and interesting evening, and I am keen to attend more of the events organised by The Colour Group.

For more information about The Colour Group visit

No comments: