A Brief History of Human “Laughter”: From 0 to 16,777,216 Colors | Waves of Tomorrow

There is a group of "visual animals" who are enthusiastic about colors. They drink a cup of colorful drinks and try new and cool sensory experiences; they shuttle through the bizarre and colorful stores, and inspire sparks with different friends; they keep on Take pictures, share, express, think, and feel the new vitality of colors in creativity, ideas, products, and the environment.

From the past to the present, colors are being wave after wave, impacting the social life and consumer thoughts of the new generation of young people.

Welcome to the topic of Tomorrow's Tide series: " Looking " -No.3 History .

Let us rewind the time back to the second when humanity originated 7 million years ago-

No one thought that when a beam of light enters the eye, light sources of different wavelengths pass through the optic nerve, and then we can see one of the most beautiful things in the world: color.

▲ Picture from: GIPHY

But for millions of years, no one has been able to say clearly or say all the things that the language cannot describe.

Nowadays, the colors are more than just red, orange, yellow, green, blue, blue and purple. There are even 16,777,216 names.

Color is no longer just the color itself. It evolves with the development of the entire human art history. It affects the trajectory of social evolution and cultural change, and it reflects everyone's psychological emotions, life consumption, and social expressions.

▲ Picture from: American Psychological Association

These changes are not groundless.

We are used to the ubiquity of color, no one notices that it has quietly changed everything.

The history of color chaos: black is not black, white is not white

God said that if there is light, there will be light, and Newton said that if there is light, there will be color.

Of course, color was not invented by Newton, but Newton used a prism to separate the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple spectrum of sunlight in 1666. It was the first time that people really knew how color was born .

It can be said that light is the mother of colors.

But for a long time in history, people thought this was a kind of heresy, because pure white sunlight was regarded as a gift from God, and it should not be mixed and decomposed.

Another thing that puzzled people at the time was: colored light can be mixed to become white, but why does the color pigment become black when mixed?

Of course, these can all be explained by science later. The mixture of different wavelengths of light will become white when mixed and superimposed, and the pigment mixture will gradually fail to reflect any visible light due to the absorption of more and more visible light, and then become more and more black.

What is hard to explain is the entire color history.

▲ Picture from: GIPHY

It may be more complicated than any history of painting, material history, or optics.

Because it has a place in various fields, and is intertwined with different industries, but complete research is pitifully scarce, giving people a pity that you can only see the trees but not the forest.

In order to make this matter a bit simpler, I want to talk about the most special thing in its history-more definitions.

As mentioned earlier, different historical periods, different countries, and different groups of people may be confused about colors and express their own opinions.

In the longer time of human history, we could not even use any knowledge to explain colors. We could only rely on pure visual obsession to extract colored minerals from nature, grind them into powder, and add water to them.

▲ Picture from: Ancient Ochres

The earliest known pigments can be traced back to the pre-Paleolithic period of 350,000 years, and humans have been able to extract dark black substances from ashes.

The oldest existing human art paintings can be traced back to 250,000 years ago. Humans have extracted yellow, red, and brown from ocher.

▲ Ochre created the famous Lascaux cave paintings in France

In the early civilized society, people began to learn to create colors that did not exist in nature from more and more basic materials.

For example, lamp black made of animal fat and resin, bone white and bone black produced by burning bones in an open flame. The Egyptian Blue, invented by the ancient Egyptians 5,000 years ago, has learned to heat it with lime, copper, silica, and soaking alkali, and it is precisely matched to produce it, which is comparable to a chemical experiment.

▲ Egyptian blue

At that time, people's understanding of color was also completely different from now.

For the ancient Greeks, blue was not blue, but "melas", which meant "darkness." For them, blue is actually a bright version of black. In the Middle Ages, blue was not the cool color it is now. It was considered a warm color, symbolizing "the most vibrant color."

Around 1704, when the color manufacturer Johann Jacob Diesbacht used cochineal as a material to make paints in his laboratory, he accidentally produced the first modern artificial paint-Prussian blue because of the mixture of oxaline contaminated with animal blood.

This color quickly became all the rage and shined in the history of painting.

Katsushika Hokusai " Kanagawa Surfing"

In fact, the paint itself has no value. But when they are transformed into colors and turned into works of art by artists, their potential will be seen by people.

Then in the medieval lacquer manuscripts, bright gold, red, and blue began to appear; during the Renaissance, waves of brilliant artistic achievements were born; and the modernist works of the 20th century made later generations stunning.

▲ "Portrait of Innocent X" by Velázquez, created in 1650

This is also due to the advancement of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, when more chemical substances were manufactured as industrial by-products and became excellent pigments and dyes.

It was not until the late 19th century that the prosperity of finished pigments and the birth of metallic pigment hoses allowed the appearance of inexpensive synthetic pigments such as azure, chrome orange and cadmium yellow, and more unprecedented colors began to appear. Modern science has brought new colors beyond imagination to mankind, such as fluorescent colors and phosphorescent colors.

Artists began to be dazzled by the colors, crazy in the creation of colors, and left countless glimpses.

▲ Works by Van Gogh: "Sunflower" & "Iris"

This is a miraculous journey of humans using pigments, colorants, dyes or chemical reactions to continuously explore and discover colors.

But even at this time, the color is still very "chaotic."

Color itself is objective, but its name, its definition, and its symbol are not objective.

A large-scale survey in the 1980s found that the division of color gamuts in different regions was very unclear. For example, there is a color in Korean called yellow-green, which is only used to distinguish ordinary green. Residents of Solomon Islands atolls divide the color spectrum into white, dark (including blue and green), and red (including yellow and orange), and they have their own definitions of what they see.

▲ Picture from: "Portrait of a Burning Woman"

A related interesting little knowledge is that oranges were introduced into Europe, and Europe only had orange color. Before that, they were called yellow or gold. This is why goldfish are not called orange fish.

This is all because color is no longer pure color itself.

Its meaning is closely related to the social, cultural, and economic significance of human beings.

In ancient times, purple has always been considered the most noble color, symbolizing the highest power and glory of a society. In China, scarlet was once the privilege of a small number of elites, while auburn belonged to low-status farmers. People of different classes have different color levels.

▲ Part of Gu Hongzhong's "Han Xizai Night Banquet"

Colors have turned all parts of the world into different "big dye vats."

It can be the raw material that touches the eyes and shakes the soul, or it can be the old glory in the social hierarchy; it is a huge economic industry that rises into the sky, and it is also the ups and downs of a small artist's life.

Color Genesis: Wake up from the chaos

We like the beginning and the end. We don’t like splitting faults. We like to have everything under control. We don’t like chaos and disorder.

Therefore, since the emergence of Newton's theory of spectroscopy, scientists, artists, and designers around the world have spent a lot of time, just like drawing the "Genesis" of the color world, letting humans take the hand of the chaotic color gamut.

The German romantic painter Philip Otto Jung proposed a spherical 3D color model in 1810 . In the same year, the German poet Wolfgang von Goethe contributed a more human-oriented analysis of color perception in his book "Color Theory"-the famous color circle based on red, yellow and blue.

▲ Philip Otto Jung’s spherical 3D color model

In 1861, Maxwell laid the foundation of modern colorimetry based on the three primary colors.

By 1905, the color sequence system of the "Munsell Color System" was born. This was the first system to describe colors in the three dimensions of lightness, hue, and saturation, and the first widely accepted color management system.

▲ Munsell color system

However, at that time, the color matching system had not yet penetrated into the actual products of all walks of life.

At this time, many dye factories and textile factories began to issue samples of various shades. After the First World War, the color industry was also facing collapse. American textile factories and manufacturers jointly formed the Textile Color Card Association, which was developed based on American dyes. The first industry-wide color chart and color trend forecast.

One day, Lawrence Herbert, a printer in another industry, still encountered color trouble.

He has been proficient in blending the colors required by designers or customers, but once a customer insisted that the colors he printed were not what he wanted. After this time, Herbert felt: It’s time to make a set that everyone can use. Color language too.

This is the source of inspiration for the famous PANTONE color card.

Herbert proposed the Pantone Color Matching System cooperation agreement to 21 ink manufacturers in 1963, describing how this system will bring new breakthroughs to designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers around the world.

This is the beginning of Pantone's global application journey.

In 1965, the first Pantone color matching system designed for art materials was launched. Each subtle color began to have a unique number and color card, and each specific color could be clearly mixed according to the instructions.

In the vibrant 60s, the ruby ​​red, rose red, and reflective blue in Pantone’s first color matching system…just like their names, they radiated attractive brilliance in all walks of life.

It has gone to every corner of the world, and it is like returning to the center of colorfulness.

In the following years, Pantone added a color matching system for pigments, plastics, powder coatings, screen technology, and textiles, establishing a set of the most common color language, and color began to truly become a popular business.

In 1998, Jobs stood on the stage of Apple’s press conference and excitedly unveiled Apple’s first iMac G3 desktop computer. Everyone who was watching had their eyes widened-it was separated from all the beige computers on the market. The blue translucent shell is shining with the light of technology and the future.

Soon, iMac G3's colorful colors such as grape purple, sentence orange, strawberry powder, lime green and so on came surging, which completely changed people's imagination of computers, and also let people see the endless potential of colors in business.

The color business has gradually received attention, and the color business has become more and more orderly.

The most well-known one is the "Fashion Color of the Year" launched by Pantone at the end of each year.

Since 2000, Pantone's color experts have been looking for a color that can capture the spirit of the times as an annual fashion color through changes in various fields around the world. It uses color to express global cultural emotions and attitudes, and it can usually touch people's unspeakable hearts, and then set off a new wave of colors.

Behind the annual fashion color, there are also the latest business trends in various industries such as technology, fashion, and home furnishing.

Even if people don’t turn on social media and don’t pay attention to the annual fashion color at all, they may be affected invisibly and wear a piece of clothing that is affected by the annual fashion color.

Just like in the "Queen Wearing Prada" released in 2006, the editor of the famous fashion magazine "RUNWAY" looked at a sky blue sweater on her assistant and said:

Oscar de la Renta designed a series of sky blue evening dresses in 2002, and then Saint Laurent designed sky blue military jackets, sky blue became the favorite of 8 other designers and put them in the store under his name. , And finally slowly entered the sad mid-range brand in the United States, so that you can find it from their discounted goods. The funny thing is that you thought you chose this color to keep yourself away from the fashion world, but the fact is that the people in this room helped you choose this fleece sweater from a pile of clothes.

Coincidentally, sky blue is also Pantone's popular color of the year in 2003 : the aqua sky.

The colors of liberation: the Tower of Babel for contemporary consumption

In Genesis, mankind united to build a tower that leads to heaven, but in order to prevent mankind's plan, God made mankind speak different languages ​​and could not communicate with each other. In the end, the plan failed.

Now, color is a tower of Babel in real consumption.

It has become a new medium, in a way that does not require communication and understanding, infiltrates people's lives, connects people's lives, and activates people's lives.

▲ Picture from: GIPHY

Especially when the digital wave hits, the spread of color accelerates, and digital color also begins to rise. It has fast color matching and obvious effects, and the imagination space is much larger than paint.

You may not have noticed that in modern computers, colors are composed of three primary colors of red, green and blue. 1 BYTE (byte, range is 0~255) represents a color component, then, there are 256×256×256=16777216 kinds colour.

If you don’t care about these 16,777,216 colors, starting from the colorful iMac in 1988, people are now enthusiastically placing orders for the new iPhone colors every year. Android phones have a variety of unique color names and ambiguous visual effects, and they often The original impulse to place orders for beautiful things.

The Huawei P30 series has a color scheme called "Mirror of the Sky", inspired by the salt lakes of Bolivia; vivo NEX 3S has a color scheme called "Liquid Tianhe", imagine, yes, it's like the Milky Way flowing on the phone; Samsung Galaxy Note 10 mixed and matched a bunch of color schemes, and simply called it "Monet Color"-the color changes when the phone is updated, which has become a consensus that the public expects .

Color has become the driving force of consumption, and we always easily spend money for freshness.

▲ Samsung Galaxy Note 10 "Monet Color" color scheme

In an interview with Ai Faner, the founder of Qiantongcai, Lin Ruicheng, pointed out that in the current consumer environment, people are indeed paying more and more attention to product color matching and creativity. They are a well-known color system service provider in China , providing a variety of color tools and services including Pantone.

For example, product packaging colors are brighter and brighter, trendy brand products are matched with glittering silver pink or neon colors, there are softer and lighter female makeup colors, and industrial colors with medium chroma…

"With the progress of the times, people hope to express their understanding of the world view through more colors," Lin Ruicheng told Ai Faner. "In recent years, the public's awareness of environmental protection has become stronger, so the use of green has greatly increased. NS".

In his opinion, the 80/90 and younger groups born with the Internet have unique insights into color and higher color needs. He predicts that there will be a new trend in colors in recent years:

The patriotic enthusiasm of Chinese consumers is high, such as the trend of tea beauty and the cultural and creative works of the Forbidden City. Next, the creative brands and products of the national trend color theme concept will reach new heights and are widely popular among young people.

Digital media is the best platform for young people to express and communicate, and people's enthusiasm for colors is also increasing.

As a result, various new stores have become a powerful tool for attracting young people to take pictures and check in .

Color has become a dissemination carrier of creative ideas, cultural concepts, and social methods.

As a result, the new tea drink gets rid of the past full cups of jam and coloring, and uses natural colorings and healthy fruits to create a variety of beverages that are popular among young people .

A subtle evolution of colors is surging.

Pantone can also be said to be a "new consumer brand."

It is not only a color agency, but also continues to make "color cross-border" creative ideas, such as making apps, publishing magazines, opening hotels, opening coffee shops, etc. It looks like taking Instagram offline.

All these have allowed color to enter the details of people's lives and have an increasing impact on people's lives.

Of course, no matter what era the color is in, it still faces the challenge of new demands.

With the research and development of new materials in various industries, such as the super porcelain crystal panel of the iPhone and the Jun porcelain material used in the Midea refrigerator, these structural materials with excellent performance have higher requirements for the use of colors. Color changes are changing day by day. Lin Ruicheng said that they are also constantly introducing and updating color management tools to adapt to new market needs.

After millions of years, colors are still evolving rapidly.

It can also have more diversified imagination and deduce more fresh stories.

▲ Picture from: GIPHY

We usually don't ask about the origin of color. In the impression, it comes from light, from natural plants, from natural minerals, and seems to have existed since ancient times.

Once we cross the most basic meaning of color, the story of color is actually the story of people, the story of life, and the story of civilization.

This never-ending story, like yellow-green, reminds people of the first shoots of spring forever.

"The Secret Life of Colors"
"Color Kingdom: Illustrated History of Color"
"100 Years in Color: Pantone Classic Color Matching Book"
"The Story of Color: Tracing the History of Human Cultural Development from Color"
"Decomposition and Induction: Research on the Application of Color Culture and Creativity"

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