Sunday, 21 April 2013

Max Luscher: Psychophysical colour testing

Max Luscher is a Swiss psychotherapist. You might know of him through his Luscher colour test, which is an exercise where you can explore your psychophysical state through your choice of colours from his 8 tile grid. He believes that your emotional and physical condition, at the moment of taking the test, can be revealed, and from this, psychotherapeutic, or medical assistance can be put in place. He believes that we all see colour the same, but we all have personal preferences. He noted that colours are selected 'unconsciously' and thus reveal the person as they really are at that moment, not as they perceive themselves or would like to be perceived. If you take the test at different times, you will get different results, as your frame of mind will have also altered.  Have a go! 

The Luscher Test (Click this link)

How do you live with colour?
The colours that surround you affect your mind and body. If you have a red living room, you may well have more rows with your family. If you have a calming green kitchen, all will be harmonious. Why do you think we have 'Green Rooms' back stage? Green actually slows your heart rate and calms you down, so as you prepare to go on stage, stage fright is lessened. Surgeons also wear green, so that you don't pump out so much blood (and so that any splashes don't look so scary!)
Try this synaesthenic test, to explore your preferences for texture, sound, smell, etc., to see what colour palette you should have in your home.
The Colour Sense Game: What colour should your home be?
(Click this link)

And for a bit of fun, what colour are you? What kind of colour do you exude? Are you pale and interesting, or fiery and hot? Saturated or pastel? Click the link below to have a go.

What colour are you?

Colour in education and experience

For all those OU U101 students working on their final design thinking assignment on 'Education', you might want to consider the effect of colour in education and the retention of learning. This links back to Rudolf Steiner's theosophy and its emphasis on synaesthesia, where all of your senses respond to stumuli whatever their nature. For example, when you hear an F Sharp played on an oboe, you will not only hear the note, but you will see colour, sense a tactile quality, and/or have a sense of its smell.
Colour theory and colour therapy were linked to this and played out in the theories of the Bauhaus (More on all of this in a later post)
Colour in learning, though, is important. Experiments were done where students tried to learn from two sets of computers. One with the normal screen surround, and the other with the surrounds painted red. The students on the red painted screens recalled far less than their peers, due to the primitive fight or flight reflex kicking in.

What football teams are the most successful?
The ones who wear red! It makes you feel more powerful, and the opposition want to run away. It makes your heart pump faster; you have more energy and 'fight'. What colour were England wearing when we last won the World Cup?

And what about our armies? Surely wearing red would make us an easy target against our green and pleasant landscape? No, actually - we scare the opposition.

Red also increases our appetite, so it's the colour of choice for fast food outlets, making us eat more and fast!

But what about other colours?
Pink? A variant of red. This has the opposite effect. 'Drunk Tank Pink' weakens the muscles, including that of the heart, even if you are colour blind. Violent prisoners are kept in pastel pink cells, groups of drunkards are thrown into Barbie Pink cells to quieten them.
West Virginia State Penitentiary had pastel cells.

For further information on this institution see Evan Meszaros' blog:


The actual colour is referred to as Baker-Miller Pink and Dr. Alexander Schauss, Ph.D., director of the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma Washington, was the first to report its effects in 1981. However, it doesn't last for long. After about 15 minutes the violence comes back, so it just gives you time to calm and then separate any angry violent criminals.

And another use: If you paint your opponent's changing room Bubble Gum pink, will this mean your opposing team will lose, due to muscle weakness? Possibly. So.... in America, there is a rule that you can paint locker rooms any colour you like, as long as both the home and away team's are the same.

Monday, 11 March 2013

For Nikhil: Having looked at your work, these artists came to mind

Gene Davis: Banjo
Sean McNulty

De Kooning

Gene Davis

Gujurat tapestry quilt
Indian patchworked tapestry

Morris Louis
Joe Maktima
Joe Maktima


Hans Hofmann

Sean Scully

Sean Scully
 Sean McNulty


Yves Klein painting with bodies


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Foundation opening projects

New Academic year, new posts!

Most incoming Foundation course students receive open briefs with a fairly abstract stimulus. These are intended to get you thinking, and perhaps move on quite quickly to subject areas some distance from your original starting point. One given topic was 'Functional Skills Maths' - so where could you go?

To start off basically, a number of artists have used numbers. Demuth, Johns, and Indiana to name three. But you could move on quickly from that to more abstract uses of numbers.

Peter Greenaway did an amazing work called The Tulse Luper suitcases, all based around the number 92, the atomic number of uranium, which was discovered the year Luper was born.

Tulse Luper is a fictitious character, an ornithologist, who travels the world, collection, packing and unpacking suitcases, and then leaving them in appropriate and inappropriate places. Some were stolen, some were arranged to be stolen, others were meant to be re-found, and then brought back together to go on display - 92 of them.  He also did the films Drowning by numbers, and a Z and two noughts.

Maths is about addition and subtraction. Most art is about adding something, but what happens when you take things away? You could look at Sam Taylor-Wood's films on decay. 'A Little Death'.

You could also look at using ice as an installation material, and see how it reduces in size, and alters in chape. Great with spotlights behind it in a pitch black space.

More obviously you could explore the idea of painting by numbers, or aspects of the Golden Section and the Fibonacci sequence which underpins a great deal of art and architecture.

Gormley: Field

Multiplication or multiples are a staple in art, see, for example, Gormely or Tunick, or think about division, folding paper, dividing objects into constituent parts, etc.

I mentioned A Beautiful Mind - about a maths professor/genius who gets involved with cryptography, eventually leading to a nightmarish mental descent. Well worth a watch.

Since you are dealing with numbers, you could look at key dates, 9/11; 7/7, or receipts. One student did an entire project around all of her receipts which gave insight into how she lived. Like a numerical diary.

Theo Jansen's creatures might not seem mathematical at first glance, but work on the binary system.
You could, on that theme, also look at non western mathematical systems - the sumerian system, metrology, etc.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Concentric Circles

Katherine, I've added some visual ideas here for the topic concentric circles. I've not added any commentary, as I would for a normal dissertation advice post, but thought these might add to your ideas.

I can't seem to label the images, but amongst them there are: Jean-Paul Gaultier's Madonna bra, Jasper Johns target, Georgia O'Keefe's flower painting, crop circles, Peter Sedgley's green concentric circle painting, Sonia and Robert Delaunay's circle paintings, Pencils, wood, agate, sand drawing, millefiori glass beads, The Pantheon, Rome, Kandinsky's blocked-in circles