The Q Is Blue!

By Corey Jenkins, Communications Intern

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Here the Inverted Q is shown through the Chromatic Vision Simulator’s Protanope filter. To view the Q’s typical appearance, visit the Akron Art Museum’s Online Collection.

One of the first things visitors to the museum see is Claes Oldenburg’s bright pink sculpture Inverted Q. However if you are Vincent van Gogh, who one vision expert believes suffered from “protanopia,” the Q would appear to be blue.

The Chromatic Vision Simulator app for iOS/Android was developed by Japanese vision expert, Kazunori Asad. After viewing some of Van Gogh’s pieces in an exhibition where the lighting and environment was designed to display pieces the way a colorblind person sees them, he noticed that Van Gogh’s work artwork hinted at “protanopia,” the absence or malfunction of the cells in the retina which recognize the color red.

Typically, people have three types of Cone cells in the retina. Each type is responsible for sensing red, green or blue light. Color blindness is caused by an absence or malfunction of one of these cone types. The Chromatic Vision Simulator gives an approximation of “protanopia”  the lack of a red cone; “deuteranopia,” the lack of a green cone; and “tritanopia,” the lack of a blue cone.

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Here Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1240 is shown in it’s common state, along with all three simulations. Clockwise from top left is Common, Protanope, Deuteranope and Tritanope.

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