Colour Theory Debate

An excellent report on the Color Impact 2020 Symposium by Dr Kathleen A. Edwards has been published in Color Research & Application, 45 (5), pages 968-969. Here is a link to the report.

I submitted three abstracts for Color Impact 2020 and after a peer review process, all three were accepted. One paper was selected for participation in the Point/Counter Point debate and the final version of this paper, entitled ‘A defense of traditional colour theory: Exploring the impact and relevance of ontology and epistemology’, was submitted to the organizing committee in April 2020.

Color Impact 2020 was originally planned as a conference to be held at Yale University; however, due to Covid-19, the conference became an online symposium.

The Point/Counter Point debate was planned and delivered by myself and Maggie Maggio. The debate featured two short 5-minute presentations by Maggie and myself, and a 20-minute Q&A session, moderated by Robert Hirschler. We discussed the relevance of traditional colour theory and how this branch of theory has evolved well beyond simple notions about “primary colours”. It was agreed by all participants that colour theory needed to evolve to reflect the science of colour; however, a key drawback is the prevalence of numerous constructs that emerged primarily within traditional colour theory and which have become a common lingua franca among artists, designers and professionals working with colour application.

My full paper included a definition of traditional colour theory plus an assessment of the ontological and epistemological traditions that underpin this branch of theory. The key characteristics of traditional colour theory include conceptual colour models and hierarchical colour classifications plus constructs relating to colour relationships which have segued into colour strategies commonly used in applied design, architecture, industry, branding and advertising. Constructs that evolved within the context of traditional colour theory such as ‘primary’ colours (not necessarily specific pigment colours but rather exemplar colours from which other colour nuances can be created) as well as ‘secondary’ colours, ‘tertiary’ colours and ‘contrasting’ colours have become a vocabulary; a lingua franca commonly used and applied by designers, architects and design professionals.

The organising committee for Color Impact 2020 did not publish the proceedings of the Symposium or the submitted papers. However, an edited version of my full paper is currently under review for publication in Color Research & Application.

Note – David Briggs’ summary of Color Impact 2020. A summary provided by David Briggs on his personal website includes a number of inaccuracies in respect to my professional status and my contribution to the Point/Counter Point debate. Unfortunately, David’s website does not allow for comments or a right of reply. David has been asked to amend the inaccuracies; however, he has largely ignored these requests.

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