Investigations in color


Rousseau gave color a queer, fearful power: it is lifeless and pleasurable. It speaks to our organs rather than our intellects. Color is wild and cannot be fully pinned down, fully systematized, parameterized, or assimilated. Color poses a challenge to totalizing impulses, the “transcendental dominion of whiteness.” In Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire, the first questions of an angel who has fallen from grace are about color: “Is this red?” he asks of the blood emerging from a cut in his hand. Like Adam and Eve, he’s been living in the divine ambivalence of single-channel colorlessness. Like Dorothy, it doesn’t get colorful until it gets dangerous.

©Ben Barsotti Scott 2019