For my BA thesis/project I contemporaneously researched, wrote my thesis, explored how I could translate thoughts visually, sketched and did hands on prototyping. It went back and forth, often overlapped, but mainly everything influenced each other. A working method that was inspiring, but in my eyes also extremely necessary when talking about color – specifically also skin color –, technology – mainly photography and film –, representation, power structures and responsibilities.
In the course of this work I developed six projects that are linked to specific text passages in my thesis: ‘color gradient’ questioning the rigid categories we have defined for a fluid color spectrum; ‘defining colors’ touching on the absurdity of thinking that ‘objective’ color definitions work and the trust we give technology in being an ‘objective’ part (in this process); ‘black and white reality’ seeing that for a long time people lived in different ‘(color)realities’ and exploring how it is to walk trough a ‘black’ and ‘white’ world not just on photographs and in videos, but live; ‘color compositions’ as well as ‘hues’ looking at the multitude of continuously changing hues each and everyone carries with their skin and the absurdity of assigning people to specifically determined color categories; and ‘mirrored’ with the ‘truecolors’ toolkit I specifically designed learning how technology is calibrated, the interests, processes and power structures behind them, and seeing what effects (my) decisions (can) have.
This work questions the rigid categories into which colors are often squeezed. With the help of a rotary knob one can find color values ‘in between’ – color values that often can not be clearly assigned to a specific color term. The ‘determined’ colors are therefore much more based on subjectivity – an individual interpretation – in contrast to the technical components, to which objectivity is usually ascribed.
‘R244’, ‘G209’, ‘B220’ – What color is that? ‘RGB’ is another construct, a standardization and an attempt to describe and define colors ‘objectively’. But even if someone is familiar with the logic behind this definition and objectively seen it describes colors a lot preciser, most people probably don't really know which hue it describes. The only thing most people might know is: the tone is likely to be lighter rather than dark since the values are closer to 255 than 0 and that the color will lean towards ‘red’ rather than ‘green’ or ‘blue’ since ‘R’ is the highest value. On the other hand, if one would use color descriptions such as ‘red’, ‘pink’, ‘lilac’ or ‘violet’, one would most likely immediately have visual images in mind.
This project also plays with the trust people place in technologies and in this case specifically in color codes. One assumes an ‘objectivity’ that is often misleading, because it is not visible that devices are programmed and calibrated by individuals and are therefore ‘subjective’. Technology can never be fully ‘objective’, no matter how hard one tries.
black and white reality
With ‘black’ and ‘white’ photography and film, one had the feeling of finally being able to depict ‘reality’. And for a long time, these were also the only images of such sort. It almost gives the feeling of having lived in different ‘(color)realities’, having to have used a lot of imagination or not having associated the visual ‘reality’ with a colored ‘reality’. At the same time the world is truly characterized by color and for many it is essential in defining a visual ‘reality’. So how does it feel to stride through a ‘black’ and ‘white’ world? With glasses and color filters, it is common practice to modify ‘our’ ‘(color)reality’. But a ‘black’ and ‘white’ ‘reality’ is usually left out, although the ‘black’ and ‘white’ world has been present and essential for so long. Therefore this device tries to enable experiencing a ‘black’ and ‘white’ world live with the help of simple means – a mobile phone camera, a ‘black’ and ‘white’ filter and a spectacle frame.
unfortunately the number of color pigments that each and everyone carries with them often stays unseen. but once you take a closer look: different hues ‘appear’ very clearly and become an individual color palette that changes continuously.
mirrored with the ‘truecolors’ toolkit
A mirror (latin speculum ‘mirror’,‘image’ and specere ‘to see’) is a reflecting surface – smooth enough that reflected light retains its parallelism according to the law of reflection and thus an image can appear. Important: Any image can appear! The mirror is also an important component of the camera, but unfortunately, not everyone ‘could’ and partially still ‘can’ be depicted with this tool. Not because it wasn't or isn't technically possible, but because parameters were set that way by white decision-makers. This paradoxon and absurdity is further underlined and emphasized with a symbolical spotlight in this project created with a specifically designed toolkit. The ‘truecolors’ toolkit is designed modularly which enables and animates one to deliberately set and change (technical) parameters.
The ‘truecolors’ toolkit aimes to be a tool with which one can understand, recreate, engineer and especially also question – and in the following step hopefully alter – physical phenomenas and technical conditions.
Thanks to a modular plug-in system the toolkit can be permanently modified and expanded. With this in mind, materials were primarily used which can be easily altered and to which everyone should have relatively easy access: primarily cardboard and materials from the hardware store. When choosing the materials, it was also important to ensure that they are as sustainable as possible and that they could eventually either be recycled or reused for other purposes. The basic setup of the toolkit consists of: a big breadboard, an arduino nano, DC motors, an LED-module, rotary knobs, mirrors, color filters, all sorts of screws and washers, jumper wires, profiles and different cardboard plug-in elements, …
For this setup there are also instructions one can follow to mainly connect technical components. However, each and everyone working with this toolkit is explicitly animated to ignore, misuse or not use elements at all for their projects and extend the toolkit with individual components as well as materials – which underline the contributions to the discussion also visually.