9 January 2020
Albers, Josef. Interaction of Color. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963.
Interaction of Color is a straightforward guide to color theory intended to be used in a practical manner within in a classroom or design studio setting. Short explanations are followed by practical examples and exploratory studio exercises dedicated to cultivating a first-hand understanding of human perception of color. The writing style is concise, uncluttered and focused. The book does not dwell on color history or science, nor does it engage in discussions of color charts, guides or naming rubrics.
The book is organized into seventeen short chapters, each dedicated to a single property or aspect of color theory. Overall, the book has two main premises which are strongly asserted throughout the text and exercises. First, that color is relative and can be best understood through its interaction with adjacent colors. And secondly, that the most useful way to study color is through direct and careful observation, either in a classroom or work studio. This book is devoted to the idea that learning is best achieved through careful, deliberate and direct means.
How does this relate to scenography?
I can think of two main reasons why this book is relevant to the education of theatrical designers:
First, a basic understanding of color is important for all visual designers. Not only do designers need to be able to work with color directly, they must develop ways to speak about color as a part of their collaborative process.
Secondly, this book teaches a process that emphasizes direct observation and self-awareness. It also highlights variations in human perception. In a sense, it introduces methods that are analogous to live performance itself. Albers’ color laboratory is a type of theater itself. Students of theatrical design will find that this approach is a natural fit for their medium.