1001 Haphazard Colours

1001 Haphazard Colours is a collection of stories embedded in a Virtual 3D environment. Every location in the environment references its unique colour. It is populated by avatars; each avatar represents a contribution and exists in the unique position of that colour. Contributions are recorded statements; video, audio, image, text or any other digitisable form, about colours which have significance. It started in 1998. To say it is finished is not quite correct; itís a work that can never be finished, however it has reached a milestone that was set all those years back. There are 1001 videos by participant/contributors talking about why they chose a particular colour; what its associations are and the meaning it holds for them. They appear in random order and they range from pre-school children to world colour experts. The youngest of them is under school age and the oldest is well into the 90ís. The length of time it has taken means there are people in there who have past away and there are former youngsters, teenagers who are now in their 20ís, 30ís maybe even 40ís; so it has a history. The project has had intense periods of work followed by periods of being put to one side. There have been many times when Iíve though Ďforget about ití itíll never be concluded but it kept re-emerging when I wasnít being diverted onto something-else. As well as the 1001 contributors it has involved, in one way or another, hundreds of people in its realisation and to all of those Iím extremely grateful. Contributions where gathered with help and cooperation from: Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth. Portsmouth Grammar School. Havant College. Iceland Academy of the Arts, Reykjavic. Salvation Army, The Haven, Portsmouth. Arundel Court Junior School, Landport. Landport Community Centre. Glasgow University. University of Portsmouth. Mairie de Caen, HŰtel de Ville, Caen, France. Tidworth Army Barracks. Quay Arts Centre, I.O.W. Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) Birmingham. St Vincents College, Gosport. Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Caen, France. Fareham College. Ecole Primaire, Amfreville, France. Millais Gallery, Southampton. Springfield School, Cosham. Hulbert School, Horndean. Highbury Junior School. Walsall College. SOAS, University of London, Tongue&Grooves Poetry Group, Portsmouth Arts Centre, Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University.

Everyone has something to say about colour. We are interested in them all. Colour is culturally objectified, measured, used as metaphor and an expression of self. However, its veracity is uncertain, exemplified by complementary afterimage. It has an empirical explanation and is a metaphysical language of culture, art and feeling. It transcends any rational foundations. The artwork seeks to collect, process, reveal, cross-reference and map communities of colour associations. It explores through narrative and the identification of embodied colour; it expresses individual and collective complexity responding to a simple question; how does colour relate?
It celebrates diversity and is a means to give voice, on an equal basis, to all those who contribute and create the content. It is inspired by extraordinary moments when, remarkably poignant statements have emanated from the most unexpected sources. It aspires to Unity Through Diversity; age, geography, ability, gender and ethnicity, social, religious and economic.
The Context
1001 Haphazard Colours addresses multiple issues, its Rational, Empirical and Metaphysical actualities construct alternative narratives. In all of these though there is the ever-present issue of language and translation in a complex landscape of social and cultural diversity. Think of colour as a language, certainly an important part of visual language, and it will share the issues of any other language in translation.
Through gathering reflective meaning by the translation of maybe an event represented by colour into the medium of words we have already crossed a number of translation boundaries. Add to this the potential diversification of meanings due to the inherent instability of meaning in words; language that mutates and transforms from generation to generation, region to region and culture to culture and the complexity is inevitable.

The behaviour of colour, as an event, is full of uncertainty; it appears, it changes, it disappears, it reappears; it appears and it isn't there. Each condition applied to it, which is subject to variability; spectrum, colour model, illumination type, pigment type, scale, juxtaposition, texture, position or variability of disposition of the observer; all of these changes the experience. It is a construct of the physics of light and surfaces and eye-brain mediation and the ecosystem that we are part of.
Paragraph 1 of Wittgenstein's Remarks on Colour states as follows:
1. A language game: Report whether a certain body is lighter or darker than another. - But now there's a related one: State the relationship between the lightness of certain shades of colour. (Compare with this: Determining the relationship between the length of two sticks - and the relationship between two numbers.) - The form of the propositions in both language-games is the same: "X is lighter than Y". But in the first it is an external relation and the proposition is temporal, in the second it is an internal relation and the proposition is timeless.
In Paragraph 22 he further remarks:
22. We do not want to establish a theory of colour (neither a physiological one nor a psychological one), but rather the logic of the colour concepts. And this accomplishes what people what people have often unjustly expected of a theory.

Wittgenstein's primary concern, it would appear, was to find some form of logical structure for colour that could be expressed and paralleled by a similar structure in written language. The logical form (in words) in which Wittgenstein primarily worked has itself an angst-ridden heritage of paradox, which stems from the illogical nature of language.
Reddish-green has figured as a conceptual impossibility by philosophers in many different works, including Wittgenstein, yet the concept of blue-green does not have the same uneasy history. Jonathan Westphal, Colour, A Philosophical Introduction, Pg 117-118, presents an insightful argument:
"There is an obvious type of argument which proceeds from the truth that nothing can be red (all over) and green (all over) at the same time to the truth that there cannot be a reddish green, and very nearly succeeds.

Assume(1) If red-green is a possible colour, then something can be coloured red-green.
 (2) If something can be coloured red-green, then it can be coloured red (all over) and green (all over) at the same time.
 (3) Nothing can be coloured red (all over) and green (all over) at the same time.
Then(4) Nothing can be coloured red-green (2,3).
So (5) Red-green is not a possible colour (1,4).
But (6) If reddish green is a possible colour then red-green is.
So (7) Reddish-green is not a possible colour (5,6).

This argument establishes the right conclusion, and it is obviously valid. But it is not sound. (2) is clearly false. From the fact that something is blue-green coloured it does not follow that it is or can be blue (all over) and green (all over)
This illustrates well the dysfunctional junction between the empirical and rational understanding of colour defining the epistemological boundaries which each system constructs as a bi-product of their language limitations.
Consider the issue of transparency it has many similarities to that of colour. Indeed the relationship between transparency and colour is discussed at length in many texts on colour.

Transparency has, for us, something to do with visible light passing through an object. There is interaction, by that light, with eyes. The data related to that interaction is sent to and processed (by the brain) and the image of transparency is created. The question of transparency is a relationship between all of the parts. The wavelength of that electromagnetic event (that which we call visible light), the ability of the eyes to respond to that wavelength, the nature of the object allowing that wavelength to pass through it and the ability of the brain to analyse that particular type of data. And so we use glass to allow light into our homes and exclude the wind. Now suppose our eyes did not respond to that particular wavelength but they did respond to another, say the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. The glass we have in our windows would no longer be transparent as (generally) UV will not pass through it.
The physical property of transparency would no longer be applicable to glass. The relationship between us, the observer, and the material has changed, the material has not. Our psychological and metaphysical relationship with glass has certainly changed. It would change also our concept of preciousness and value of substances prized as gems and jewels.
Colour also exists somewhere as an interaction with visible light. But it can also exist in the darkness of the blackest night with closed and blindfolded eyes. Blindness to light stimulus is not necessarily blindness to colour.
The Colour Model
It simplistic technical terms the colour model is RGB. In another much more important sense the colour model is based on the stories. The choices of a hue are important for their symbolic value the actuality of the colours chosen are in the stories that are told.