Colour Theory Debate

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’, 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. Robert Hirschler took on the role of mediator and we discussed the relevance of traditional colour theory and the proposal to amend colour theory to reflect the science of colour.

My 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.

Unlike typical academic conferences such as those organised by the International Colour Association (AIC) and Environmental Design Research Association, (EDRA), the organising committee of Color Impact 2020 did not publish proceedings of the Symposium.

Note – David Briggs’ summary of Color Impact 2020

A summary provided by David Briggs on his website includes a section relating to the Color Impact 2020 – Point/Counter Point debate between Maggie Maggio and myself.

David Briggs’ summary not only features a misrepresentation of my paper and presentation as well as the structure and content of the debate but also inaccuracies about my professional role.

In his summary, David Briggs cherry-picked information that suits his agenda – one that appears biased against me specifically and also traditional colour theory. Both he and Robert Hirschler chose to ignore my full paper and definition of traditional colour theory. They also chose to ignore the short definition of traditional colour theory in my presentation. David Briggs also chose to quote Robert Hirschler’s evaluation of traditional colour theory and not mine – despite these being essentially the same. In addition, David Briggs implies in his summary that the positions defended by the participants of the debate (Maggie Maggio and myself) were incoherent – an implication that is defamatory in respect to our professional reputations.

In response to my request to amend his summary, David Briggs corrected my professional details but did not amend his misrepresentation of my full paper, my presentation or the debate.

David Briggs’ website does not allow for comments or a right of reply. Now and in the past, I have found him to be dismissive of different perspectives, often taking an ad hominem approach to views that don’t agree with his own, and failing to separate the author from the subject matter which is akin to suggesting that an author that writes about paedophilia is himself a paedophile. Plus, he freely applies Mark Twain’s advice to ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story’. Whether this is some form of misogyny, toxic masculinity or Trump-inspired rudeness is unclear but unfortunate and unnecessary.

It is noted that David Briggs’ PhD research focused on paleontology and, while he has experience teaching colour and has his own self-published website, he is unqualified to comment extensively on colour theory – here’s a link to David Briggs’ PhD thesis.

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