Tuesday 3 March 2015

And I’ve been drinking Italian coffee since before it was cool

Last week the internet pissed its knickers about the colours in a terrible photograph of a blue and black bodycon[1] dress. The photo is so washed out that only about one third of people can tell what colour it's supposed to be. Randall Munroe has illustrated the white balance illusion beautifully.

At risk of sounding all hipster, I have been worrying about white balance illusions for well over thirty years. When I was six or seven we had a family holiday to the Isle of Wight. The bathroom where we were staying had very shiny black tiles. When you looked at one you could see the colours of your reflection perfectly, but you could also see that the tile was black. Nobody on the holiday could adequately explain how.

If you're not worried enough about the shaky nature of colour perception, let me ask you this: How do you know that mirrors are silver? Go and look at one, it's the colour of your face and whatever you're standing in front of.

[1] I assumed that "Bodycon" was a maker's name, but it's actually a type of dress. I would make sense if it stood for "Body Contour" but it's apparently "Body Confidence". Given that it means tight and clingy "Body Conscious" is probably more accurate.

Richard "I burned my mouth" B

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