Jacky Redgate’s patch of yellow (and blue)

There is no substantial discourse of colour photography, no convincing interpretive framework through which we might account for its phenomenology. Perhaps this is because there is no “material indexicality” in a colour photograph, the optical basis of which is wavelengths of reflected light that are themselves invisible and the experience of which is always subjective and cultural. While a colour photograph might approximate perceptual experience, it is only ever a translation. As an example of the sceptical view of the colour photograph held by prominent photographers during the 1970s, the historian Max Kozloff characterised colour as “anti-realist” and as “perfectly unsound as a reliable witness.” Contemporary commentators remain uncomfortable with colour, or fail to even recognise it: try to find a reference to colour in Michael Fried’s resolutely formalist Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before (2008).

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