#TheDress Debate Continues At Carsten Nicolai's unicolour Exhibit On Color Perception

You remember Dressgate, that horrific division of the nations over whether that stupid dress was...you know. If nothing else, it unearthed a fair amount of research about specifically how we perceive colors on an individual level. This’ll certainly be a point of discussion in London’s upcoming The Vinyl Factory exhibit unicolour, an installation by Carsten Nicolai that “examines the psychology of color perception.” Prepare to have your mind warped — we’re entering the matrix.

“Carsten Nicolai’s new work will stretch panoramic wavelengths of blue, red, green and grey to infinity, confronting the viewer with a visceral expanse of colour and sound to test the limits of perception,” says The Vinyl Factory’s description of the work, adding that it draws from “a huge range of influences from Goethe’s Theory Of Colour to the work of artists Josef Albers and Johannes Itten.” A giant room of mirrors creates the illusion that you’re facing bars of light that continue on indefinitely, playing a series of changing colors before your easily manipulated eyes. It looks awesome.

And not to stir the pot of gendered predispositions for cognitive range, but research published by the Smithsonian about color perception suggests that men and women will literally see this exhibit differently. While women see a “larger, more elaborate color vocabulary,” they write, “when shown light and dark bars flickering on a screen, men were better than women at seeing the bars.” Israel Abramov of CUNY’s Brooklyn College, who lead the research, thinks this may be a testosterone thing. As with all scientific theory, who the hell knows.


Is it possible to quantify specifically how this differs from person to person? Maybe, but likely not without the aid of some scientific interference that is far beyond my scope of comprehension. Regardless this installation look ah-may-zing, and if you’ll be in or around London from June 23 to August 2, I suggest you go check it out. Here’s a little taste of what you’re in for:

Image: Carsten Nicolai/Vimeo