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Sources of Color

For the normally sighted person, color is everywhere. In the interior of a dwelling are natural and stained woods, wallpapers, upholstery fabrics, pottery, paintings, plants and flowers, a color television set, and many more things seen as colored. Outdoors, and depending on the time of the year, there is a riot of colors such as those on an alpine summer meadow, or they are spare in a desert, with olives, browns, garnets, and grays. Colors can be pleasantly subdued, enhancing relaxation, or loud and calling to us from advertising billboards or magazines. Color entices us to eat, consume, or at least to buy.

Color likely has helped us to survive as a species. Our (known) contacts with the world and the universe are by way of our five senses. Persons with a normally functioning visual system obtain what is probably the largest amount of information about the world surrounding them from vision, and color experiences are an important outcome of this flow of information. In the past several thousand years, color has blossomed into much more than just a survival and communications tool. We have learned to derive aesthetic pleasure from it by way of crafts, design, and art.

The question of the nature of color experiences has puzzled humans since antiquity and has resulted in many and varied answers. The number of different color phenomena in the natural world, from ...

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