Colour Impact 2020

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’s a link to the report.

The key outcome from the Color Impact 2020 Symposium focused on a need for colour education to evolve. This echoed much earlier calls to address shortcomings in colour curriculum, including ‘Black-listed: Why colour theory has a bad name in 21st century design education’; a paper I presented at the 2nd International Conference on Design Education in 2010 – available via this link.

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. 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.

The Point/Counter Point debate featured two short 5-minute presentations by Maggie Maggio 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 notions about “primary colours”. It was agreed by all participants that colour theory continues to evolve; however, a key issue 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 an assessment of the ontological and epistemological traditions that underpin traditional colour theory. The key characteristics of this branch of theory include conceptual colour models plus a raft of constructs that relate to hierarchical colour classifications and colour relationships which have segued into colour strategies commonly used in applied design, architecture, industry, branding and advertising. It is these constructs which have become a lingua franca commonly used 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: ‘Traditional colour theory: A review’.

Note – David Briggs published a summary of Color Impact 2020 on his personal website; a summary that was also circulated via his newsletters. David’s summary contained inaccuracies about my professional status and misconstrued my contribution to the debate. In response to my request to amend these, David did so on November 5 – but only partially.

David’s summary misrepresented my professional status, which was detailed on the Color Impact 2020 website (and my website and LinkedIn profile). However, David chose to ignore these and used his own inaccurate version instead. 

In addition, David cherry-picked commentary from the debate in such a way as to misconstrue and denigrate my contribution.

To clarify, David did not read my full paper and was not privy to planning sessions for the debate between Maggie Maggio and myself.

An archived page on David’s personal website continues to include inaccuracies about my professional status and my Color Impact 2020 contribution, and I have asked him to remove these, to no avail. That he allows this to occur and the absence of an apology from David reinforces my belief that his actions reveal misogynistic intent.

Despite knowing David for some years, he did not reach out to me for clarification. His website lacks a right-of-reply mechanism and he refuses to meet face-to-face with me (or with members of the Colour Collective Sydney). Incidentally, David’s PhD research was not in the area of colour research, theory or application but focused on paleontology. His PhD thesis can be accessed via this link.

I’m not sure why David would wish to spread ill will but in the interests of moving forward in a positive manner, I trust that David can find a way to treat other academics with respect – as do most within the global academic community – and refrain from denigrating ad hominen commentary when academic perspectives differ.

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