Culture in-colour.

Culture in-colour is a concept that recognizes that culture is always imbricated in relations of colour as form, structure, or system and in relations of colours. These two regimes – colour and colours – fold back onto and interpenetrate one another to constitute culture in complex, multiple, contradictory, constitutive relations that are potentially open to change. Theorizing culture in-colour draws on and beyond the image of the cyborg to insist on in-colour as neither a thing, a property of an object, nor a neurological process, but an active verb, a lived event: of interminglings and articulations, of repetitions, struggles, rearticulations, and becomings. The Dress, a 2015 controversy over the colour of a dress in an image circulated over the Internet, reveals how colour is typically thought of – as surface, artifice, and ornament; as a scientific fact; and as a neurological phenomenon – and how it is lived affectively. The anxieties produced by The Dress suggest a tension between the typical explanations of how colour matters and the less-accessible, but far more consequential, ways that both colour and colours matter. Colour and colours are often used to designate community belonging, but a closer look at the perceived threat in seeing colour differently reveals an underlying trust both in what colour is and in the reliability of colour to negotiate/constitute community in relations of inclusion, exclusion, and hierarchy. Neuroscientific and technological explanations affectively discipline colour by asserting thingness and sameness, and by erasing the traces of the powerful articulatory work of colour. Yet it is the system of colour itself that makes the dismissal of the significance of colour possible. Acknowledging that we live in-colour demands recognition that not only do we live deeply in-colour, but that different cultures in-colour are possible, that different forms or systems of colour are lived affectively, and that the disciplining of colour can be resisted with effects more open to indeterminateness.

Published in: Cultural Studies Vol. 31; no. 4; pp. 449 - 470
Main Authors: Slack, Jennifer Daryl, Hristova, Stefka
Format: Article
Published: Taylor & Francis Ltd Jul2017
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Summary: Culture in-colour is a concept that recognizes that culture is always imbricated in relations of colour as form, structure, or system and in relations of colours. These two regimes – colour and colours – fold back onto and interpenetrate one another to constitute culture in complex, multiple, contradictory, constitutive relations that are potentially open to change. Theorizing culture in-colour draws on and beyond the image of the cyborg to insist on in-colour as neither a thing, a property of an object, nor a neurological process, but an active verb, a lived event: of interminglings and articulations, of repetitions, struggles, rearticulations, and becomings. The Dress, a 2015 controversy over the colour of a dress in an image circulated over the Internet, reveals how colour is typically thought of – as surface, artifice, and ornament; as a scientific fact; and as a neurological phenomenon – and how it is lived affectively. The anxieties produced by The Dress suggest a tension between the typical explanations of how colour matters and the less-accessible, but far more consequential, ways that both colour and colours matter. Colour and colours are often used to designate community belonging, but a closer look at the perceived threat in seeing colour differently reveals an underlying trust both in what colour is and in the reliability of colour to negotiate/constitute community in relations of inclusion, exclusion, and hierarchy. Neuroscientific and technological explanations affectively discipline colour by asserting thingness and sameness, and by erasing the traces of the powerful articulatory work of colour. Yet it is the system of colour itself that makes the dismissal of the significance of colour possible. Acknowledging that we live in-colour demands recognition that not only do we live deeply in-colour, but that different cultures in-colour are possible, that different forms or systems of colour are lived affectively, and that the disciplining of colour can be resisted with effects more open to indeterminateness.