A dose of color from PBS!

Color lovers unite! We found you an excellent video this week. In the last year PBS has made great strides in producing fantastic educational and informative online video with YouTube channels like PBS Off Book and Idea channel.  To our delight  they made a great video all about color. 

It starts off with an introduction to color theory from Tomas Bosket, a professor who, instead of tightening his students ideas about color into the preformed boxes of historical color theory,  teaches them the principles and then encourages them to create new color wheels and charts of color combinations. It encourages an imaginative and creatively active experience of color.

The show goes on to cover the wide range of our psychological associations with color from universal, cultural and personal perspectives. Universal color reactions are things that affect all of us no matter where we are from in the world: the physiological trigger of an increased heart beat, increased alertness  and the desire to move that follows after exposure to red hues, for example,  may be an evolutionary byproduct of seeing blood and knowing something dangerous may be afoot. Cultural color associations on the other hand are learned responses to color. They use the example of brown changing from the color of dirt when you are a child to the color of coffee as an adult. Personal color preferences are determined by everything from fashion trends and time of year but on a deeper level may be based on memories  associated with a particular experience.

The video also brings up ideas about the historical trends of color. Comparing depression era glassware as a tool to lift people out of despair with the wild colors of the 60’s shows how our cultural expression of the times is linked directly to color and its associations. They explain how color trend forecasting is based on this mass of data about the years of color trends that have come previously and how the brightly colored 60’s swung into the earth tone 70’s just as the neon 80’s dissolved into a decade of beige in the 90’s.

The video  covers a variety of GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)   artists  who have 256 colors in their palette and  some deeper concepts about our colorful lives. It is really worth a watch and is a great way to support the new online presences of PBS!

Emoticon color at Beijing’s Water Cube

Ever wonder what happens to all those architectural beauties thought up and built for the Olympic games? After Michael Phelps won his eight gold medals at Beijing’s National Aquatics Center, nicknamed the Water Cube, what do they do with the swimming pools? Even in a city of 20 million people, how much swimming can one city really do? 

But never fear,  the Water Cube has found new life in the hands of artist Jennifer Wen Ma and lighting designer Zheng Jianwei, both of whom consulted on the nearby Birds Nest Stadium. The fantastically undulating surface has been fitted with hundreds of colorful LEDs making it possible to precisely control the flow and combination of colors across the building shell. But this isn’t just another lovely light show, entitled “Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube,” the installation is a public display of the state of the countries emoticons. 
Every night after dark a custom software program trolls Sina Weibo, China’s knock off Twitter site, for all the emoticons users are generating, essentially gauging the mood of the country or at least the public expression of it. The emoticons are sorted into various categories which in turn correlate to specific colors combinations that then sweep and undulate across the Water Cubes bubbly exterior. The emoticons determine not just the color of the individual LEDs but also the shapes and movement that appear on the building. 
The piece transforms an underused building into not only an art installation but a statement about the public voice in a country still cloistered behind government censorship. Just think of the significance of two artists getting permission to publicly display, all be it thorough the intermediary of color, the emotional state of the nations people, on a government building. It paints an interesting picture of what China will and won’t allow when it comes to art. 
Want to know more about how LEDs are replacing paint in architectural applications of color? See the Sistine Chapel of LED buildings in our earlier post “LED’s replacing Paint?”
All images via WSJ