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The magenta chronicles

Post #1297 • February 18, 2009, 7:43 AM • 30 Comments

Liz Eliot impugns magenta's status as a color:

Magenta is the evidence that the brain... has apparently constructed a colour to bridge the gap between red and violet, because such a colour does not exist in the light spectrum. Magenta has no wavelength attributed to it, unlike all the other spectrum colours.

Chris Foresman sets the record straight:

If you look at a standard CIE chromaticity diagram, which maps wavelengths of light according to human perception, you'll note that every point along the curve corresponds to a single wavelength of light. Magenta, as it were, lies along what's commonly called the "pink-purple line" that runs across the bottom. All colors along this line do not exist as single wavelengths. But, all points inside the "color bag" above that line do not exist as single wavelengths, either.

Click the links to see how it all works.

Comment

1.

Jack

February 18, 2009, 10:13 AM

Well, this is at least as important as whether or not "A-Rod" knew what he was taking. Honestly, I don't see how mature adults of at least average intelligence can still take pro sports seriously enough to spend so much damn money on them. It may not be quite like pro wrestling, but then pro wrestling only claims to be entertainment.

2.

opie

February 18, 2009, 10:59 AM

I don't get it. If color comes in wavelengths, then every color has a wavelenngth. It is a semantic matter, not a technical one.

3.

Chris "Magenta" Rywalt

February 18, 2009, 11:10 AM

Not every color has a single wavelength, however. In other words, you couldn't make a magenta laser. Then again, you couldn't make a laser in a lot of colors. Magenta hardly seems special in that regard.

I really like magenta. My first tube of gouache -- the old-fashioned kind preserved with formaldehyde -- was magenta. My first few airbrush paintings were done almost entirely in magenta. This portrait of my mother is magenta.

I'm thinking of starting a Website where everyone can rate artists. I was thinking of calling it the Magenta Bible. Just because I like magenta.

The "interconnected series of tubes we call the Internet" is a Blue Man Group reference. At least, that's how it sounds to me.

4.

Jack

February 18, 2009, 11:15 AM

if color comes in wavelengths

It doesn't. Color is a construct in the mind it has no wavelength.

5.

The original Jack

February 18, 2009, 11:52 AM

I did not post #4. I did post #1.

6.

Arthur

February 18, 2009, 11:52 AM

A philosopher!

7.

MC

February 18, 2009, 12:39 PM

I saw that magenta-isn't-a-colour silliness come up on Reddit, but couldn't be bothered.

It is conceivable that some non-human creatures, like bats for instance, can hear in colour, perceiving a mental-model of the world that is similar to the one we perceive, except through their ears instead of their eyes. So, magenta could be the product of sound, as well as light, waves, if that's what a brain decided to with the information.

8.

Tim

February 18, 2009, 2:09 PM

What about puce? How come puce is never discussed? I'm going to correct this inequity with a poem:

Puce
Oh, what's the use...

Thankyaverymuch

9.

opie

February 18, 2009, 2:33 PM

Purplish brown? Let's agree it
is a color so bad people flee it
it has no good use
so let's name it Puce
from the sound we make when we see it

10.

Tim

February 18, 2009, 2:53 PM

HA! Opie, your verse! Is that why you get the big bucks?

HOWEVER! Puce was actually invented to camouflage the gathering of fleas on the clothing of visitors to Versailles (a reclaimed swamp) during, I think, the time of Louis XIV. So, a very popular color then, you can see it in the paintings.

Don't ask me why I know that.

11.

opie

February 18, 2009, 3:23 PM

Unfortunately not. A limerick a day keeps the big bucks away

Thanks for the flea info. I, too, am a mine of usless facts.

12.

MC

February 18, 2009, 3:23 PM

So, people flee it, while fleas people it.

13.

Tim

February 18, 2009, 3:27 PM

Opie,
Your terse verse showed me no merce,
And here's the worst, your verse was better,
though my verse was first.

14.

Jack

February 18, 2009, 6:46 PM

Modernism has Alzheimer's

I forgot the rest

15.

opie

February 18, 2009, 6:58 PM

If you are referring to another trenchant Opie coinage Jack, it is:

Postmodernism is Modernism with Alzheimers.

16.

Chris, uh, Rywalt

February 18, 2009, 7:22 PM

It's not nice to make fun of Alzheimer's. I'm not sure if I don't have it.

17.

Tim

February 18, 2009, 7:28 PM

Not sure of what?

18.

The original Jack

February 18, 2009, 8:17 PM

Whoever posted 14, please modify or change your handle. There's already another Artblog Jack who's been here far longer than you have. I don't want to be taken for anyone I'm not. Thanks.

19.

MC

February 19, 2009, 3:43 AM

Y'all know about this?

There might be some magenta here, if that's even possible...

20.

opie

February 19, 2009, 7:27 AM

Thanks, MC. I did not know about it.

The painting looks like one of Dan's best. Too bad he wasn't getting this kind of attention when he was alive.

21.

Jack

February 19, 2009, 9:00 AM

In fairness to puce, not to mention the court of Louis XIV:

Puce is a color that is defined as ranging from reddish-brown to purplish-brown, with the latter being the more widely-accepted definition found in reputable sources. Puce is a shade of red. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) dates the use of "puce" (couleur puce) from 1787. The word comes from French; puce literally means "flea", as the usual flea coloration is either dark reddish-brown or dark purplish-brown.

Also, as I'm sure you all know, Louis XIV died in 1715.

22.

Tim

February 19, 2009, 9:42 AM

Jack (I hope you're the right Jack), yes, the year of Louis XIV's passing is widely known. And?

23.

Jack

February 19, 2009, 11:12 AM

And, if the use of puce dates from 1787, neither he nor his court can be associated with it.

24.

opie

February 19, 2009, 11:12 AM

Puce is actually more of a brownish red or maroon than brownish purple. If you mix brown and purple the mixture goes way toward black, depending on the pigments you use.

If you put "puce" on Google images you get a couple good examples.

25.

Tim

February 19, 2009, 11:36 AM

Yes, Jack, I read the wikipedia entry too. It didn't say anything about what court(s), if any, puce may have been associated with. The implication was that the word itself had been around since ? Seems to me that it is more a style or fashion issue than an issue of an association with whomever. Not sure what difference it makes. Hey, puce has gotten more attention here than it possibly ever did.

26.

Chris "Magenta" Rywalt

February 19, 2009, 12:47 PM

There's a great moment in "Monsters Inc." where Sully has to file paperwork for Mike after Mike rattled off this list of where the different-colored sheets of paper need to go. Sully is looking through the sheets and says, "Oh, so that's puce."

27.

Tim

February 19, 2009, 12:53 PM

Yes, Chris, that scene was mentioned in the wikipedia entry.

With the help of all of you, I've succeeded in giving the hapless underdog cinderella color puce its DAY IN THE SUN. What a feeling! Thank you all...

28.

Chris "Prunes" Rywalt

February 19, 2009, 3:02 PM

Now can you work on the image of prunes? Changing the packaging to read "dried plums" hasn't done it.

29.

Tim

February 19, 2009, 4:28 PM

Well, Chris, if you give a plum its DAY IN THE SUN, it turns into a prune... Hmm... I'll work on it.

30.

Chris "Prunes" Rywalt

February 19, 2009, 8:55 PM

You know, I didn't even realize the "joke" I'd made.

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