Research Areas

In keeping with the intention of creating a comprehensive publication for all areas of colour research, Colour Turn is divided into eight central chapters in which articles can be published. A detailed list of the different research areas and possible topics for research questions can be found below.

Colour in Interdisciplinary Context

The research arena on Colour in Interdisciplinary Context covers inquiries addressing interdisciplinary approaches in colour research. Issues that fall within this purview range from basics of colour research, methodology, concept of colour, definition of colour, and functions of colour, inter alia. Possible topics may include but are not restricted to:

  • Basics of colour research
  • Functions of colour
  • Colour studies
  • Colour research
  • Methodology for interdisciplinary colour research
  • Definition of colour
  • Concept of colour

Colour and the Mind

The research arena on Colour and the Mind covers scientific inquiries addressing colour and perception. Issues that fall within this purview range from colour in the brain, colour perception, colour recognition, colour associations, colour memory, colour preferences, colour and emotions to colour and language. Possible topics may include but are not restricted to:

Part 1: Colour in Cognitive Science

  • Colour in the brain: The construction and representation of colour in the visual system
  • Crossmodality: Colour, taste and smell—The phenomena of synaesthesia
  • Changing colour perception—In the early childhood and old age
  • Recognizing objects by colour

Part 2: Colour in Psychology and Phenomenology

  • Colour and language
  • Goethe’s legacy: Colour and emotions
  • Colour associations
  • Internal colours: Colour memory, dreams, drugs and trips
  • Colour aesthetics
  • Colour as a medium of imagination and understanding
  • Colour preferences
  • Perceptual phenomena, e.g. colour contrast, colour constancy, etc.

Colour and Nature

The research arena on Colour and Nature encompasses a broad spectrum of topics related to colour in the natural environment and essential character and/or qualities of colours. Topics of interest include colour vision, colour codes, colour displays, colour evolutions, colouration on the one hand, and physics of colour, colour mixture, colour metrics, natural pigments and structural colours on the other. A tentative outline of possible topics is given here:

Part 1: Colour in Nature

  • Animal colour vision
  • Colour codes
  • Animal eyes and visual pigments
  • Colour for camouflage
  • Colour display in courtship
  • Signalling and communication
  • Co-evolution of animal colour vision and plants
  • Evolution of human and animal colour vision
  • Colouration of animals and plants

Part 2: Nature of Colour

  • Newton’s legacy: The physics behind colour
  • Natural pigments
  • Structural colours
  • Colour metrics
  • Colour mixture

Colour and Technology

The Colour and Technology arena addresses the ever-expanding and far-reaching concern of the technological development and the vibrant nature of colour. The topics in this area can be categorized into three broad chronological divisions: colour in the pre-modern era, the modern era, and the post-modern era. Issues to be addressed range from techniques of colour (re)production, and colour display, to colour trades, and colour in industries (e.g. in the automotive, fashion, textile, food, furniture, information and creative industries) to the connection between colour and artificial intelligence. In the following, a tentative outline is proposed.

Part 1: Colours in Pre-Modern Era

  • Techniques of colour reproduction: From early antiquity to the modern era
  • The exchange of colourful materials in ancient civilizations
  • The Silk Road: Continental colour travels 

Part 2: Colours in Modern Era

  • Colours in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, industrialization and massification
  • New synthetic colours as a chemical invention of the 19th Century
  • Colour and (post)colonisation
  • Advertisement: Colour and consumption—First generations of (old) media, e.g. TV

Part 3: Colours in Post-Modern Era

  • New Pixel Systems—OLED, LED and Micro LED
  • Resolution in 2, 4, 6, 8 K and so on—The impact of high definition on moving images
  • The new wave of food design and the unhealthy effects of artificial colours
  • Advertisement: Colour and consumption—Second generation of media, e.g. Networked and digital (new) media
  • Colourful outfits for everybody—The change of fashion industry
  • Aspects of colour recognition in the development and use of artificial intelligence

Colour and Communication

The Colour and Communication arena considers matters relating to communication design and human communication in general, ranging from material and industrial design, spatial design, information design, to colour and educations, colours for orientations, colour and body language, inter alia. A tentative outline is presented in the following.

Part 1: Colour and Language

  • Colour terminologies, concepts, naming
  • Colour in ancient languages
  • Colour categorization

Part 2: Colour and Visual Communication

  • Colour as didactic tool
  • Colour systems as tools for orientation, e.g. traffic
  • Fashion and body language
  • Colour as a tool in science
  • Colour as tool in diagnostics
  • Colour discriminations: Sexism, feminism, racism
  • Colour shock: Colour communication among cultures
  • Effective communication: Inter-cultural challenges

Part 3: Colour in Communication Design

  • Material design
  • Industrial design
  • Spatial design and architectural design
  • Information design
  • Web Design

Colour in Art and Media

The Colour in Art and Media arena addresses the complex and central issue of colour in media spheres. A tentative outline of possible topics is suggested below.

Part 1: Colour in Art

  • Self-reflection and the first human paintings
  • Colour and creativity
  • Colour compositions in realistic paintings
  • Creating light and shadow with pigments and dyestuffs
  • History of colour materials
  • Ways of experimentation: De-constructing the “normal” perception
  • Literary imaginations—The stimulation of inner visions in poems and lyrics
  • Theme and mood—Colour in cinema
  • Set them free: The liberation of colours in animation
  • Virtual colours: Creating and changing moods with light and colour

Part 2:  Colour in Analogue Media

  • Re-creating history in black and white
  • Auto chromes: The great ideas of the Lumière brothers
  • The journey of colour photography all over the world
  • Hand-paintings—From daguerreotype to early movies
  • The complicated colour-struggle of the movie industry
  • Kodak chrome
  • Glorious Technicolor
  • Agfa colour: Colour and propaganda
  • The breakthrough of multi-layer film after the second world war
  • Eastman colour, Fuji and others
  • The red button and the start of the new era of colourful TV-entertainment
  • The sprawling archive—The private life in Agfa and Kodak-colour
  • The ephemeral colours of multi-layer films

Part 3:  Digital Colours

  • The colours of electronic media systems
  • Non-controllable colours in hybrid media and media transformation
  • The colour palette of the World Wide Web
  • Colour in 3D and other immersive media
  • Lucid and deep—The aesthetic of wide gamut monitor systems

Colour in Culture and Society

The Colour in Culture and Society arena encompasses a broad spectrum of topics addressing colours and normativity, colours and counter-cultures, colouring Inter-cultur(es), and the functions and values of colours. A tentative outline of topics is suggested in the following.

Part 1: Colour and Normativity

  • Written and unwritten colour codes
  • Colour and political power
  • Mainstream: Colour and fashion
  • Clergy colours and the hierarchy in religious institutions
  • Colour and racism—The construction of whiteness
  • Colour tools of gender-constructions
  • Colour and social distinction
  • Colour production and the development of the international market

Part 2: Colour and Counter-Cultures

  • Avant-garde: Colour and fashion
  • Female revolts: Pink panties and red lips as symbols of protest cultures
  • Colour and colourlessness in youth movements
  • Rainbow-communities: Empowering marginalized people through colours
  • Black is more than beautiful: Re-creating the symbolism of darkness
  • Neither black nor white: Grey signifies difference
  • Queering colours and the visual de-construction of gender roles
  • Colour events and happenings—Visual overload as experience

Part 3: Colouring Inter-Cultur(es)

  • Colour preferences and cultural identities
  • Colour phobia in western societies
  • Colour perception and discourses in Asian cultures
  • Colour landscapes: Scripted spaces in multi-cultural urbanity
  • Fusion of colours—The migration of visual cultures
  • Colours pushing business—Signature for global brands and commercials
  • Tourism and fashion trends: Import of new colours
  • Colouring the future—The design of life and work spaces in trans-cultural societies
  • Colour aesthetics and globalization

Part 4: Social Functions and Values

  • Human colours in the pre-history—e.g. health practices, funerals
  • Holy colours: Rituals and religions
  • The colours of mourning and the colours of joy
  • Colour and colonisation


Colour Turn also publishes reviews of contemporary research literature to share and discuss current findings in the field of colour research. The Review chapter encompasses reviews of monographs and edited volumes as well as chapters, journals and articles. The aim is a critical discourse on international developments in the field of colour research.

  • Reviews of monographs
  • Reviews of edited volumes
  • Reviews of chapters within edited volumes
  • Reviews of journals
  • Reviews of articles