The Art, Science and History of Colour Quiz

11.7 The Art, Science and History of Colour Quiz

Screenshot of Question 5 from Part 1 of Quiz

This quiz grew out of an invited presentation I gave at the ISCC/AIC Munsell Centennial Symposium in Boston in June 2018 on the topic Where is Color Education Today?, in which I argued that in several important ways colour education in art and design today presents not a simplified but a fossilized version of our current understanding of colour. The problems involve not only positive disinformation about colour found in many books and on the internet, but also the failure of important current concepts like hue opponency and the lucid systematics of perceived colour developed by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) to widely penetrate art and design teaching.

Part One of the quiz for example is aimed at anyone interested in such fundamantal questions as:

  • How do our visual receptors collect the information that we see as colour?
  • Is colour a perception, or a property of objects and lights, or in some sense both?
  • What physical property makes an object appear a particular colour?
  • Why do "blue and yellow make green" sometimes, and sometimes not?
  • Is what we call "colour mixing" really the mixing of colours?
  • How much does language influence colour perception?

However because the quiz questions focus on precisely those matters that are poorly treated in many sources of information on colour, even people involved with colour at a professional level are likely to find that they do surprisingly poorly. It is important to interpret a low score only as a revelation of the unreliability of those sources, and to use the detailed feedback provided to access much more reliable information. Each part of the quiz is structured so that working through the feedback to all of the questions in succession should cumulatively provide a sound explanation of one major aspect of our current understanding of colour, peppered with a few little-known but interesting historical observations.

Part 1: Seeing in colour (10 multiple choice questions).

Part 2: Circles of hue (10 multiple choice questions).

Part 3: Colours of objects (10 multiple choice questions).

Part 4: Paints and paint mixing
In preparation

Part 5: Colour in art history
In preparation

February 23, 2019.

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