Ontologies of Chromatic Violence
"The other fixed me there, in the sense in which a chemical solution is fixed by a dye."
- Frantz Fanon
In his seminal essay ‘The Fact of Blackness’, published as chapter five of Black Skin White Masks (1952) Frantz Fanon searched to convey the ontological status of alterity via colour. Whilst his oscillation between Hegel on recognition and Lacan on identification is reasonably well known, the complex ontologies of colour are yet to be fully addressed. What does it mean to be fixed by or like a dye? How can this devastating observation be variously interpreted regarding colour and alterity?
In this Third Text forum we are seeking experimental contributions to do with chromatic revolutions, pragmatism, colour and race, the materialities of colour and colour and the postcolony broadly defined. Is it possible to decolonise colour or are we trapped in a world still stained by the violent technologies of I G Farben, the redemptive pain of Primo Levi and the recent farming out of chromatic algorithms from the Gates Foundation (CORBIS) to the Getty via a Chinese consortium? The uncertain affective connotations of colour in contemporary ‘empire’ are what we intend to stage and debate in this online forum.
We welcome any form of academic, curatorial or artistic contribution on colour and decolonisation.
This can include colour’s hallucinating capacity; vernacular genealogies; how colour-as-stain can incite nausea, is sacred, invites disalienation. This can fissure through Goethe’s cloudy perception and self-eviscerating work with electricity – the body as conductor of electrical energy, to other thoughts about colour and the architectonics of light and cinematic flesh, as well as the phosphorescent and the fluorescent and how these may or may not be allegorical in relation to recent questions of techno-utopia and synthetic mysticism. The ‘double speak’ of supposedly ‘democratic’ digital colour and its widespread availability are now increasingly cryptic and bound up with what Carolyn L Kane terms ‘enforced protocols and compression standards’ which in turn contribute to a greater opacity and inaccessibility’. The linga franca of transparency, the rhetoric of remediation and the (al)lure of transgenics (ie use of synthetic fluorescent proteins scientific practices – plants and animals) make colours dangerously scintillating even in their cold play of the digital. These are some of our preliminary thoughts and we welcome many more.
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