Posted in communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays, medical imaging, Optics

Forbidden colors, exposed!

From Scientific American: People can be made to see reddish green and yellowish blue—colors forbidden by theories of color perception. These and other hallucinations provide a window into the phenomenon of visual opponency.

Have you ever seen the color bluish yellow? We do not mean green. Some greens may appear bluish and others may appear yellow-tinged, but no green (or any other color) ever appears both bluish and yellowish at the same moment. And have you ever seen reddish green? We do not mean the muddy brown that might come from mixing paints, or the yellow that comes from combining red and green light, or the texture of a pointillist’s field of red and green dots. We mean a single color that looks reddish and greenish at the same time, in the same place.

At the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the two of us explore the most catastrophic visual failures we can arrange. We create conditions in which people see images flowing like hot wax and fragmenting like a shattered mosaic. Here, we tell the story of the two most intriguing perceptual breakdowns we have studied: forbidden colors and biased geometric hallucinations.

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Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.