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Blog post: Shades of Grey, Black-and-White and Colour

23 November 2017

Professor Sarah Street new blog post on the Eastmancolor Revolution website

The last room of the National Gallery’s current exhibition Monochrome: Painting in Black and White (30 Oct 2017-18 Feb 2018) is a large-scale art installation called Room for one colour by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The installation uses single-frequency-monochromatic sodium-yellow lights that suppress all the other colours in the spectrum. This causes visitors to experience a heightened visual perception of shades of grey, black-and-white. As Jennifer Sliwka, co-author of the exhibition catalogue with Lelia Packer, explains: ‘The sensation experienced in this room is one of stepping into a black-and-white photograph or film where, in the absence of other colours, the eye registers the fine detail of line, shade and contour and detects many more shades of grey in the scale of black to white. The effect is a kind of enhanced vision that heightens our awareness and perception of the space, people and objects around us’ (2017: 205).

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