10 April 2021

The infamous white and gold dress which is really black and blue

I only just came across this fascinating story a few weeks ago when I was reading about the British hiker in Devon who took the photograph of the ship which appeared to be hovering over the English Channel. This in turn took me to a link about optical illusions which again took me to this story about a woman wearing the dress above and below. 

One can readily find the article about this which will explain it easier than me. But the gist of it is this: 

A woman posted a photo of the bride at a wedding who was wearing this dress. It created havoc because many people saw the dress as white and gold while others as blue and black. The story Ballooned from there and began to ricochet around the globe within days.

What interests me in all this is just how it throws much of my own ideas about colour on its head. I could not imagine that people would see such different colours! And of course, this is my own solipsistic way of seeing paintings. I am so used to seeing paintings through what I imagine to be a 'universal' set of eyeballs, as it were. How wrong I could be! 
I understand that the original photo of the woman wearing the dress was removed due to all the exposure, understandably. She was in fact in Jamaica on her honeymoon oblivious to everything when all this blew up. But that is unfortunate because it is really the original photo in this context which reveals the divergent ways that people were seeing the colours, black/ blue or gold and white

Everyone on Twitter wade in on it, all of them expressing very strong opinions on the colours which they were sure that they were seeing.

For instance, I saw the woman wearing a white and gold dress, very clearly, I might add, as did many others. But then, just as many saw a black and blue dress!

So the question it raises for me is exactly how does everyone see a painting? What colours do they really see? 

And I do understand that this example has to do with a photo of colours in a taken in an an artificial environment which is one step away from a direct experience like that of seeing a painting directly, or a woman wearing the dress in person.

But what does it mean for paintings if, according to science that many people have different amounts of  blue components in their retinas?

Anyway, it is interesting story.

(Below is an art from the NYT explaining the phenomena behind this optical illusion. But the dress is in fact a black and blue dress and sold in London for around 49 British Pounds, as illustrated just below.


The mother of the bride wore white and gold. Or was it blue and black?

From a photograph of the dress the bride posted online, there was broad disagreement. A few days after the wedding last weekend on the Scottish island of Colonsay, a member of the wedding band was so frustrated by the lack of consensus that she posted a picture of the dress on Tumblr, and asked her followers for feedback.

“I was just looking for an answer because it was messing with my head,” said Caitlin McNeill, a 21-year-old singer and guitarist.

Within a half-hour, her post attracted some 500 likes and shares. The photo soon migrated to Buzzfeed and Facebook and Twitter, setting off a social media conflagration that few were able to resist.

As the debate caught fire across the Internet — even scientists could not agree on what was causing the discrepancy — media companies rushed to get articles online. Less than a half-hour after Ms. McNeil’s original Tumblr post, Buzzfeed posted a poll: “What Colors Are This Dress?” As of Friday afternoon, it had been viewed more than 28 million times. (White and gold was winning handily.)

No comments:

Post a Comment