Color Mixing Installation

Sometimes you learn something when you’re younger and then you just accept that concept and don’t think about it anymore. For instance, if you really stop and think about what Light is and how Light travels you can spend countless hours just thinking about those mysterious waves….particles?….

At any rate, I set out to create an installation that explores the idea of combining different colors of light together. When you perfectly mix the colors together you should end up with white light however, I found myself interested in the moments before that perfect white is produced.

Shot of the installation from the street.

I wanted to make sure that the installation was clear to the participants so I only utilized the primary colors of light (Red, Green, and Blue). I decided that the best method was to use “painterly language” when describing the work which results in three containers of watercolor.

Red, Blue, and Green Watercolor

Each container is hooked into a MAKEY MAKEY board that can transmit key press data to the computer. Max MSP reads that data and sends the color data to the three LED spotlights. These spots are angled at the large paper installation and allow participants to mix colors together.

What becomes immediately interesting is that the combinations of color do not follow traditional “Subtractive” Color Mixing. Red and Green will produce Yellow, Red and Blue produce Magenta, and Blue and Green create Cyan. When you add more and more color into the canvas the canvas doesn’t grow Darker (like pigment would) but instead becomes Lighter. See below for recordings of installation:

Additive Color Mixing #1 – Installation from zack merritt on Vimeo.

Performance based work utilizing this installation. (Although the colors have been slightly reworked and the installation now responds to audio input.)

Color Performance #1 from zack merritt on Vimeo.