Sunday, October 28, 2007


Having cooled down after the spontaneous daylight savings ranting, I am now ready to rant about my original intention.
Just like that idiot William Willet, who was a philologist / builder, and should have had nothing to do with time, some people think they can somehow transcend science and push bold ideas such as black and white not being colors. Some of my art teachers in school did this. Fuck art. Art is spontaneous and creative, it's not something you teach. If I want to paint red next to green next to blue next to dark gray because I feel so, you don't have to come and tell me it's wrong and the colors don't match and it has a weird, heavy feeling. Maybe that's what I want it to be. Oh, and I also don't care about anything. I remember when I was in childrengarden (sic), and the teacher made us paint some stuff on a sheet of A4 paper. Each one's sh[i|ee]t was then posted on a huge panel for public display, and they were all sorted according to 'value'. Mine was of course last, because it consisted of an entirely black sheet. To this day, I take great pride in the fact that my sheet was displayed last. That was true, innocent, creative, art. I had never heard of postmodernism, heavy metal or anything, I was just a 3-year old kid who painted a black picture. But that's not all. The philosophy behind my black, flimsy piece of paper is much deeper than this. I initially started to paint what everybody was painting: some stick people, grass, flowers, sun etc. Then I admired my complex work and thought: this is wrong. I took the tube of black paint and blackened it all. It looked much better. It was remarkable. And it couldn't have had a better place on the display board. I am still PROUD. :)
Some years passed and school started. And of course, we had art class. We had to paint stuff that strictly followed some given form. Of course, it had a point, it taught you basic elements of painting, but it was far from stimulating creativity. At one time we had a teacher that gave us the option of using a computer to generate some drawings instead of messing with paint. That was way cool and progressive, and I didn't fully realize it at that time.
But anyway, some people insist that black and white are not colors. Well. They might have a point, but not a strong one. There are only two disciplines that can rightfully tell whether or not something is a color, and those are physics and biology. As you can see, whatever-art-whatever is not among them. Unless of course, one takes the liberty of defining color however they please. Certainly, one can be high on LSD and taste orange and smell blue, but that's an exception, as are the cases of people who naturally do that.
So, to explain why black and white ARE colors, regardless of what some might assert, let's start with a definition. Color is visual perception that can be classified in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and a lot of other names depending on how precise one wants to be. The other visual parameter would probably be brightness, which is a little easier to define: the intensity of perception, which is of course directly related to the intensity of the stimulus, light. A comparison beetwen light and sound, and between sight and hearing is useful in showing why all colors are colors. Both light and sound are waves and their natural properties are frequency, or how fast they vibrate, and amplitude, or how strong they are. We'll use intensity instead of amplitude. Any sound or light wave can be thought of as a sum of elementary waves of various frequencies and intensities. This mathematical decomposition is called the spectrum. It can be drawn as a graph that shows how strong each frequency is within a complex wave. So slowly vibrating air gives a low-pitched sound, while rapidly vibrating air gives a high-pitched one. If air is vibrating both slowly and rapidly, you hear both pitches. Yeah, it can do that, vibrate both slowly and rapidly, no big deal. It's called linear superposition. Think shaking your wrist very fast while also moving your whole arm up and down, slowly. Then, if the electromagnetic field (light) vibrates slowly, you see red, and if they vibrate rapidly, you see blue. Of course, slow and fast are relative to the phenomenon in question and to human perception. We only see a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum and only hear a limited part of the mechanical spectrum. And light vibrates much, much faster than sound. Just as most sounds are complex, so are most colors. For example, you can't speak using just one sound frequency, and many colors can't be generated using only one light frequency, magenta being a good example. So if the equivalent of red is low pitch, that of blue is high pitch, and mixing red and blue light gives magenta, and mixing low and high pitches gives...ummm... low and high pitches, then: pure black is silence, pure white is hiss (also called white noise), pink is also some kind of hiss called of course pink noise, and so on. So if hiss is a kind of sound, then pure white is certainly a color. Either that, or pink and most other colors aren't actually colors. Anyway, there's no pure white, so how do you call a white that's a little bluish or yellowish or whatever, but not so much as not to call it white? you either call it a color, or you slowly increase the blue/yellow/whatever content until you can't call it white anymore, and don't call the resulting stuff a color either. So it is natural to call white a color. Some insist on calling it a sum of colors or whatever. True, it's a sum of all other colors. So? White hiss is a sum of all other sounds and it's still a sound. Every color is a sum of more elementary colors. There's no pure red, green, or blue, not even in the most precise lasers, let alone in a painting. If we skipped this and defined "mostly pure" colors, which indeed exist, then yellow can be a pure/primary/whatever you might call it color, meaning a single frequency of light, or can actually be two such frequencies, that of red and that of green. So there is a pure yellow and a yellow that's actually red+green, and they look exactly the same, and that's because of how our eyes are built. So all these attempts to refine the categories into which colors are placed and the idea that white is somehow different are absolutely pointless. The question of black is a little more difficult, because it is the absence of light. Is silence a sound? I don't know. It might be. Many artists talk about the sound of silence. The simple fact that we hear lets us categorize sounds into loud, soft, and absent. We wouldn't know what silence is if we didn't know what sound was, so silence is part of our audio perception. I guess it's still not a sound, but I don't even care. I'm making a comparison, not an equality. There is no pure black, at least not in paintings and shit. There is always light reflecting off even the blackest paint. So it's not equivalent to pure silence so it's a color. And if you were to be locked inside a totally dark room, you wouldn't see color anymore. You would see exactly nothing. So it's not black you're seeing, it's nothing, the equivalent of hearing nothing, or silence. There. Cut the crap once and for all. If I wanted to say that 1,2,3 and 4 are numbers but 5 isn't, I could, but it would be a very stupid thing to say. If I said that 1,2,3,4 and 5 are numbers, but zero isn't, that would be less stupid but still stupid, and it's been said throughout history. So feel free to classify numbers into positive, zero and negative, feel free to classify colors into warm, neutral and cold or whatever, but just please, cut the fucking crap.
PS. I also skim-read the Wikipedia article and found no indication of this stupidity. Is it a local tradition or something? Good enough reason to kill it ASAP.

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