Wednesday, 12 September 2007

colour is not sitting still

For some reason it is easier to understand this idea of electromagnetic waves actually altering what they touch when you are talking about invisible ones like x-rays. It is hard to believe that light - lovely friendly white light - also changes almost every object it hits...

The best way I've found of understanding this is to think not so much of something 'being' a colour but of 'doing a colour'. The atoms in a ripe tomato are busy shivering - or dancing or singing; the metaphors can be a joyful as the colours they describe - in such a way that when white light falls on them they absorb most of the blue and yellow light and they reject the red - meaning paradoxically that the red tomato is actually one that contains every wavelength except red.

Victoria Finley, Colour: Travels through the Paintbox (Sceptre, 2002), page 6.