The nature of colour.
While researching light and colour I first looked into classic theories of colour described in, Primary Sources selected writings on color from Aristotle to Albers (edited by Patricia Slone Design Press New York 1991). The early views of colour and light concern themselves with the ideas of white being the most important colour and black being the lack of colour or as Aristotle puts in the colour of no light. Aristotle also contends in his essay De Coloribus (322-269 B.C.) that colour is made by the blending of light and colour, and that light itself is required to see colour. This is the first recorded attempt to form a theory of colour rendering by light.
Later Leonardo Da Vinci goes on to place white and black as the two most important colours, indeed you don’t have to look beyond his most famous painting The Mona Lisa to see how prominently black and white are used. Black and white form the basis of painting and all other colours fade in or out of them.
This I believe forms the basis of how we see, what our eyes pick up is the spectral power distribution of light reflected of objects. Spectral power distribution is a physical fact in that we can prove its existence; colour exists only in our eyes and brain, in order for humans to be able to function we need to build a three dimensional picture of the world around us and our eyes and brain in conjunction do this. However what if we didn’t use our eyes to build that picture we instead used our ears. Richard Dawkins once offered the idea that as bats live in a world of sound that they hear in colour in order to form the three dimensional world around them (The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life, 2004, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London). Dawkins then goes on to discuss the Platypus’s hunting method of seeing with electronic impulses from its bill. The Platypus closes its eyes and ears and ‘opens’ its bill to find its prey. Dawkins believes that the eyes and eyes being shut cut off that form of sensory perception and leave only a highly complex one its place that can best be interoperated through colour.
So the black and white, light and no light the blends of light, colour in between, form an interpretable world. However they may not exist only in light but also in sound and electronic impulses.