CONN 375

The Art and Science of Color

Why do people see? What is color? How do people see? How do people think of and label color? These questions involve a highly interdisciplinary understanding of chemistry, physics, biology, studio art and art history. This class exposes students to the history of color and the understanding of color theory, i.e., the principles that define color contrast and interaction. Many interesting stories and cultural practices are associated with different colors. Students explore select, compelling narratives and cultural associations integral to the use and development of distinct pigments and colors. Students discover the relational nature of color and its role in evoking expressive content, communicating symbolically, and creating illusions of space and sensations of light. They discuss influential visual artists who have changed the way color is organized, opened up new perceptual possibilities, and experimented with new pigments and dyes. Students are initially exposed to the complex and beautiful steps (both chemically and physically) in the process of human vision, from initial light source to the signal in the brain. This fundamental background concerning the interactions of light and matter are continuously reflected upon as the history of color unfolds. The course explores subtractive and additive color systems through the history of pigments, dyes, and technologies that project light, such as modern day computer screens.