Adam Herst is a Toronto-based artist and arts manager, Linux system administrator, and technical writer. He is interested in the tension between ideas, their ownership, and their reproduction, and in exploring the proposition that ideas which are designed for dissemination will be disseminated. When Adam isn't creating art, he helps arts organizations and other non-profits make the most of their investments in technology.

(All works created by Adam Herst are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.)

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"Interaction of Colour" in p5.js

"Interaction of Colour" in p5.js is an ongoing project in which I respond to the exercises in Josef Albers' Interaction of Color.


The book "Interaction of Color" is a record of an experimental way of studying color and of teaching color.

The table of contents shows the order
in which exercises usually lead our investigation.

Each exercise is explained and illustrated —
not to give a specific answer,
but to suggest a way of study.

I. Color recollection — visual memory

If one says "Red" (the name of a color)
and there are 50 people listening,
it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds.

What does this show?

First, it is hard, if not impossible, to remember distinct colors.

Second, the nomenclature of color is most inadequate.

II. Color reading and contexture

We are able to hear a single tone.
But we almost never ... see a single color unconnected and unrelated to other colors.
Colors present themselves in continous flux, constantly related to changing neighbors and changing conditions.

III. Why color paper — instead of pigment and paint

Paper provides innumberable colors in a large range of shades and tints ready for immediate use.

IV. A color has many faces — the relativity of color

To begin the study of how color deceives and how to make use of this, the first exercise is
to make one and the same color look different.

As a practical study we ask that 2 small rectangles of the same color and the same size be placed on large grounds of very different color.

V. Lighter and / or darker — light intensity, lightness

If one is not able to distinguish between a higher tone and a lower tone, one should probably not make music.

We confront them with several pairs of color, from which they are to select and to record which color in a pair is the darker.

It should be mentioned that the students are encouraged to abstain from making a judgement in any case of doubt.

These colors are collected and pasted in pairs, and observed again and again until their light-dark relationship is clearly recognized.

Gradation studies — new presentations

Color intensity — brightness

VI. 1 color appears as 2 — looking like the reversed grounds

VII. 2 different colors look alike — subtraction of color

VIII. Why color deceptions? — after-image, simultaneous contrast

IX. Color mixture in paper — illusion of transparence

X. Factual mixtures — additive and subtractive

XI. Transparence and space-illusion

Color boundaries and plastic action

XII. Optical mixture — after-image revised

XIII. The Bezold effect

XIV. Color intervals and transformations

XV. The middle mixture again — intersecting colors

XVI. Color juxtaposition — harmony — quantity

XVII. Film color and volume color — 2 natural effects

XVIII. Free studies — a challenge to imagination

Stripes — restricted juxtaposition

Fall leaf studies — an American discovery

XIX. The masters — color instrumentation

XX. The Weber-Fechner Law — the measure in mixture

XXI. From color temperature to humidity in color

XXII. Vibrating boundaries — enforced contours

XXIII. Equal light intensity — vanishing boundaries

XXIV. Color theories — color systems

XXV. On teaching color — some color terms

Explanation of color terms

Variants versus variety

XXVI. In lieu of a bibliography — my first collaborators

Plates and commentary.