The editors of Portsmouth Point wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We hope you enjoy the latest edition of our magazine, which has a theme of 'Colour', particularly appropriate at this solstitial time of year, as the hours of light slowly but inexorably begin to lengthen.
Colour is central to the way we experience and interpret our world. Like our perception of reality, our perception of colour is subjective; we can never be 100% sure we mean the same thing as each other when we label something “yellow”, “blue”, etc. If humans visualise and process phenomena in very varied ways, there is an even more profound gap between the way other species visualise the world and the way homo sapiens does; in this age of climate crisis, it is increasingly imperative that we view our shared planet through the same Green lens.
The formlessness and fluidity of colour enables some species to change their appearance in order to deceive predators by blending into their natural environment. In the cultural sphere, colour has similarly transformative possibilities, from theatre and film to art and jewellery. Yet, the ability of commercial and technological giants, from McDonald’s to Facebook, to use colour in subtle and sophisticated ways to shape human behaviour and trigger powerful psychological responses has troubling implications.
In addition to being a fascinating natural phenomenon, the rainbow has long been a resonant cultural symbol, from ancient China to a modern Diversity movement that encompasses race, gender and sexuality. In religion and art, colour has been used as a symbol to represent spiritual truths, from the Hindu Holi festival to Christian medieval iconography and the meditative abstraction of modern artists like Mark Rothko. From Odysseus to Bojack Horseman, we continue to be fascinated by morally ambiguous heroes; the language of morality is often shaped in terms not just of black and white but the many shades of grey between. Indeed, some of the most morally complex and psychologically penetrating movies ever made take full advantage of the interplay of light and shade allowed by black-and-white cinematography.