Color Walking (Reading Summary Five)

In this short article titled Color Walking, the authors Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullan discuss an experiment created by William Burroughs in which he asked his students to select and focus on a color, and then to go outside for a walk. This resulted in a greater appreciation and noticeability for the selected color. McMullan and Bennin decide to conduct a similar experiment only this time they allow themselves the option of switching to different colors if they so wish. This second experiment resulted in the authors being lead down certain areas or to different colors, which in turn lead them somewhere else.  By the end of the day, all of the colors of the world became emphasized.

This is an interesting article. Personally, I don’t pay too much attention to color—or perhaps it’s more accurate for me to say that I do not normally make a habit of consciously paying attention to color. Unbeknownst to me, I may be subconsciously lead down certain roads or to certain areas in the same way Burroughs’ students, Bennin, and McMullan were lead to certain areas when they experimented on consciously focusing on color. The findings of these experiments make me wonder just how much influence color in the built environment has over where we travel. For instance, a person whose favorite color is blue may be more inclined to travel down roads or to destinations that have blue in them; and a person who hates the color red may be discouraged from traveling to areas where red is predominately featured. Another interesting thought is how this impacts the color-blind. A designer or team of designers may create a space with color in mind, purposely creating a welcoming (or unwelcoming) atmosphere; however, this may very well oppositely impact, or cause no impact, to a color-blind person since they perceive color differently.