This film is certainly quirky: it’s about how the renowned German philosopher/poet, Goethe actually spent most of his life studying colors and how he thought these affect us. Using Goethe’s ‘Theory of Colors’ (Zur Farbenlehre) as a point of departure, this film, ‘Light Darkness and Colors’ takes us on a fascinating journey through the universe of colors.

In 1704, Sir Isaac Newton published “Light and Refraction”, his study of the interactions between sunlight and prisms. Newton was, as a good scientist, intent on achieving objectivity, which meant studying sunlight in isolation. He thought colors were contained solely in light, and found the spectrum he was looking for.

But when Goethe reproduced this experiment, he found another, hidden set of colors missed by Newton. Goethe found the hidden colors in the boundaries between light and darkness. He felt, as an artist, that one could not talk about light without including darkness. Calling it ‘the light-darkness polarity’, Goethe made this new scientific discovery using artistic methods in conjunction with science.

The film shows the different spectra viewed and described by two of the most celebrated thinkers of modern Western history and it opens one’s own eyes to the colors we overlook, every day.

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Alexandra Bruce

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  • A stunning presentation! Both from a physics and static pigment standpoint, this video covers the whole ball of wax. As thought-provoking as it is factual. A must see for scientists and philosophers.

  • I knew that objects needed light for their colour, but I didn’t know that light depends on objects for its visibility. Its a mutually supporting system! This film is a great find. There are many ideas put forward in the arts about ‘seeing’ and ‘looking’ and that we can see and look in a way that is not passive but active. A great antidote to the hypnotic effect of mass media, psyops etc.

    As a bit of fun have a look at Tacita Dean, Green Ray its a little study of the green flash that can sometimes be seen just before the sun sets 🙂

    • Yes, this is sweet. I posted this several years ago and forgot all about it but ran across it again, as I was fixing 400 YouTube links over the past few days.

Kirk Elliott

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