Seeing in Colour


Continuing from my previous blog, the ‘ways’ in which we see the world change not only with perspective, but with the use of colour. When we see old photos in black and white, we sometimes forget that life back then was experienced in the same vibrant colours that surround us today. I have come across this review of the artist Sanna Dullaway, who took old, iconic pictures and colourized them using Photoshop: “I just wanted to show you a new perspective of the black and white old world, it used to be in colour, too.”[1] Through this, we are able to see through the eyes of the original photographer and see their reality; we see through the eyes of the spectator. The camera isolates momentary instances and in doing so destroys the idea that images were timeless. The camera shows the notion of time passing is inseparable from our experiences of the visual world; what we see depends upon where we are.[2] We often see black and white photos and detatch ourselves from them, unable to relate to a time and space so far in the past; but to see them as if they were taken yesterday puts them in our world and ours in theirs. Berger argues that no other kind of relic text from the past can offer such a direct testimony about the world which surrounded other people at other times however, we never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves. A photograph is an appearance which has been detatched from the place and time in which is first made its appearance and is preserved – for a few moments or a few centuries. The addition of colour to photographs does nothing than to reduce the distance between our reality and theirs.


Just a final and totally irrelevant point to add because I found it quite amusing: “men of state and business discussed under paintings like this (naked women). When one of them felt he had been outwitted, he looked up for consolation. What he saw reminded him that he was a man.”[3]



[2] John Berger. (1972) p.18.

[3] John Berger (1972) p.57.



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