fictional-science, portfolio

1.6 – Colour: From Source to Perception (part 1)

I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive this seeming tangent from our ongoing discussion of genki. There’s a particular, wonderful subtlety of ki-sense that I wish to explain fully and to do so requires a crash course in… well most of modern science, to be frank. You may be tempted to skip this section as I guess for many readers it tugs on those threadbare, unpleasant memories of high school (or memories yet to be made for you younger readers). In that case I hope you at least skim this section and feel encouraged to return as we progress. Some of the concepts I describe here will appear in modified forms throughout the rest of the textbook, and I would hate for you to miss what I believe are astounding parallels throughout the natural world.

I’ve been attempting to paint the appearance of genki for a while now to give you the impression of what the world looks like to me. I say attempt, not to appear cloyingly modest about my artwork (I am doing my best!), but to impress that it is extremely difficult to portray ki with the limited visual palette alone. The images I’ve painted are an ugly mess of colour, I admit. In paint Pan appears an orange/brown, although I hope you could make out the colours were in fact red and green (and some yellow). With paint, colours run and mix. If you put every colour of the rainbow on a page it appears a murky brown. In ki-sense this mixing doesn’t occur however, and the colours stay bright and distinct.

There is more than just colour, too. There are a mix of senses and triggered memories that contribute to ki signatures. Laughter, the sensation of spinning when dancing, dark chocolate… these are all images invoked that encompass my understanding of Pan’s ki, and yet the sum of these ideas alone can not do her ki justice. These interpretations are subjective, of course. If I had never tasted chocolate I may have described her ki like sweetened coffee – bitter and sweet with great depth – and I would be just as close. The red elements of her ki are very much the “Son” family signature – lively, warm and fun. The green is more Videl’s family, the cosy bitter chocolate definitely from her mother.

The question is then, why is there such a difference in perception between the colours as experienced by the eyes and colours through ki-sense? Why can’t I differentiate every colour of the rainbow if they’re overlapping with my eyes but can with ki? To explain, we need to begin with light itself and how colour arises in the first place before moving onto the brain.

The Great Saiyaman's helmet
The Great Saiyaman's helmet in the dark
Colours of objects under different lights. My helmet looks black under blue light. Why is that?

In a sense, the world does not truly have colour. Colour itself is subjective and lives in our mind and the mind can be fooled. Why is it that the helmet above looks orange in sunlight but black in blue light – why not a orange-blue mix? But colour is not completely imaginary, the experience is triggered by something. That something is the energy of light, and so we should begin by understanding the nature and properties of light itself.

Read the full post here

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