The article Color Walking by Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullan discusses color walking, an experiment that was discovered while the two were creating their podcast show “Colors”. Color Walking is an experiment that allows one to attentively notice colors and watch as their surroundings sharpen as they follow a certain color from object to object while walking, talking notice of soft hues and violent strains as they go along.
The experiment was designed by William Burroughs to inspire his students to think more creatively and help people to unwind and let colors take them on an adventure by walking and take notice of all the different colors around them. The idea is that when one picks a specific color to focus on that they begin to notice more about their surroundings, especially parts of an object or features of a person they have never noticed before. From there, the experiment gives one the flexibility to switch from color to color and to follow things like the lavender on a women’s handbag, a yellow cab going into a side street, or even the color of an ice cream cone that could lead a person to walk into a park. The goal of Burrough’s experiment was for people to see the extent that color is as a physical thigs in the physical world, and to what extent that colors create images in one’s mind.
Bennin and McMullan tested out Burrough’s experiment by walking at WNYC in lower Manhattan. As soon as they were out the door they picked a color and set out on their walk. They started with the color blue, which led them to follow the color pink, and then they began looking at violets. At the end of the day the colors they saw were visualized more in their memory, and they concluded that they ended their walk seeing a “world brimming over with colors”, and were able to visualize not only the different colors that they saw but the different hues and intensities of each color in the objects they noticed on their walk. Bennin and McMullan created an interactive timeline that featured the objects that they noticed on their color walk and a description of the object that they noticed the color on. The interactive timeline allows for their readers to observe what they saw on their walk in real time and how they switched from color to color.
Looking back on how they tested the experiment, Bennin and McMullan advised people that are interested in doing a color walk to give themselves an hour of uninterrupted time where they would have time to just focus with their eyes on the colors they were seeing instead of running errands or trying to get from one part of town to the other during a commute. The second piece of advice they gave was to pick a color, or to even let a color pick you if it makes ones heart want to follow it. Finally, they said that if you get lost to pick another color and that getting lost in the colors means that you are on the right track.