Towards an Ontology of Colour in the Age of Machinic Shine


  • Mark Titmarsh


This paper argues that the enduring mystery of colour, in particular its el - emental effusiveness, has been tamed and managed by notions of good taste and chic that equate cultural maturity with a limited palette. Yet co - lour in all its post industrial forms continues to break free of constraints in an audacious display of autopoiesis. The science of colour based on image, mimesis, and the physiology of the eye has missed the phenomenon of co - lour altogether because it takes place at the incalculable level of shine and radiance. Ontologically colour makes things manifest by revealing them in their unique presence rather than merely facilitating communication, rep - resentation or spectacle. Before colour is seen, before light can facilitate a look, colour looks back in such a way that looking and seeing are provoked.

Using Thierry de Duve, David Batchelor and Martin Heidegger it will be shown that these ways of being with colour are extended by a formal evolution in painting whereby expanded painting addresses everything in the everyday world that carries colour from data screens to plastic utensils and even paint itself. Ultimately, the medium of painting however decon - structed or expanded, has become the entity to ”˜whom’ the work of colour is addressed.