Kiera Bennett

#5. Monochrome/Duochrome – thoughts on colour materiality and dependency – Part 1. Organised by Katrina Blannin

Johannes Vermeer, The Music Lesson, 1662-65, oil on canvas

Johannes Vermeer, The Music Lesson, 1662-65, oil on canvas

In her fascinating essay Color, Facture, Art and Design[i] Iona Singh argues that, in a world saturated with industrially produced synthetic colours: dyes made from coal tar, a by-product of oil production, we are losing touch with any meaningful connection with the materiality and facture of colour and our sensory perception. ‘Use of these strong, lightfast and inexpensive synthetic colors are at the expense of nuance, tincture and the plenitude of natural formation.’ She suggests that the ubiquity of coal tar colours in the built environment has contributed to the alienation of the senses and our estrangement of colour on an aesthetic level – colour is divorced from structure and does not appeal to the body in any real material sense anymore: relationships are lost and thereby the ‘sensual ground of related cognitive processes’. I would add to this the finite range of back lit colours that we are faced with on a daily basis on the computer or the TV – every colour starkly saturated and smoothed out: unmixed and de-materialised.

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