Blue is the Warmest Color

Pantone Color

By Sabrina Wirth

What does it mean to experience a color? Is there a taste? A smell? A sound? How does a color make you feel? These might not be things that may naturally come to mind when entering a space, but they are precisely the questions that preoccupy the minds of the top color experts at the Pantone Institute of Color on a daily basis. Subconsciously, every color produces an emotional response in the human psyche, triggering sensations such as happiness, anxiety, fear, or calm. As Picasso once said, “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” How then, does the Institute determine what the Color of the Year will be? In order to do so, they must collect multiple data points from around the world and distill the overarching global emotions, or “zeitgeist” down to one hue.

“I think sometimes people get the impression that color is a very fluffy kind of a decision,” says Lee Eiseman, Executive Director of the Institute. “And it’s not. It’s so integral to our work, and we justify our decisions, we do a lot of homework that leads us to that specific color.” Pantone, by the way, is responsible for Tiffany’s iconic shade of blue (1837 Blue) as well as the shade of Yellow (Minion Yellow) for the lovable characters in “Minions” and “Despicable Me”.

Lee Eiseman – Executive Director of the Pantone Institute of Color.

Behind every branding choice, there has been a depth of informed investigations into color psychology. To create the Color of the Year, research will usually begin a year in advance, with members of the Institute traveling around the world gathering information on color trends that they see arising organically within different industries. This will include investigations within art exhibitions, films, popular cosmetics, fashion, new technology, and even the automotive industry. They look at whether any particular colors keep reappearing in certain areas of design, and where there is a direction that the color/design scheme seems to be headed.  After the members of the Institute have gathered enough data points, they will meet to discuss the color they have decided on. To Lee’s constant amazement, they almost always conclude with the same shade. This year it is: “Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue”.

Artech House
The “Submerge” exhibition at the Artechouse in N.Y.C. Picture Courtesy of the Artech House -Twitter Account

“It’s a color that anticipates what’s going to happen next,” said Laurie Pressman, the vice president of the Pantone Color Institute. “What’s the future going to bring as we move into the evening hours?” Specifically, Eiseman says, “the blue is the shade of the sky at twilight when the day is winding down and we’re looking forward to a little bit of peace and quiet.” It is a color that evokes calm and hope in a time when there is a lot of uncertainty around the world. Even the name has symbolism. It “tells you that it’s a color that has some history, that there’s tradition tied into it, but it also is a futuristic color, a color we attach to hi-tech and digital products.” Normally, Pantone will unveil their Color of the Year through multiple press outlets, but this year will mark the first time the Institute has chosen to present the color with an immersive, experiential exhibition that engages not only the visual senses but all the other senses as well. Their partner for this initiative? Artechouse. One of the most innovative museums and artistic production platforms to emerge within New York’s culture scene in the past year. With groundbreaking technology that includes L’ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound with 32 separate sound channels and 18K resolution projectors, Artechouse was the perfect partner to transform the color into an experience. 

Presentation of the “Submerge” Exhibition at Artechouse. Courtesy of Artechouse Twitter Account.

When founders Sandro Kereselidze and Tati Pastukhova received the call from Pantone Color Institute in October, they were immediately enthusiastic about the artistic challenge. “For me,” recalls Sandro, “it was very exciting in the sense that every designer or anyone who’s in a creative field really appreciates the Pantone Institution. And on top of that, for announcing a color, it was, of course, a big honor for us. Right away we said ‘yes, let’s make it happen!” Within a few months, the Artechouse team developed an installation with Mexican based designers Intus Interactive Design that would be debuted for its first, private viewing in December, and a more public, updated viewing in February to coincide with the start of New York’s Fashion Week. The response was better than both institutions had anticipated, resulting in daily sold-out shows, and highly documented stories all over Instagram. For the exhibition “Submerge”, Artechouse converted their space -a former Chelsea Market boiler room- into a dreamlike world where visitors are invited to explore different spaces that induce Classic Blue emotions through sight, smell, feel, and taste. If the first floor is the appetizer in this feast of the senses, with interactive monitors to play with, and drinks called “Resilience”, “Calm”, and “Reflection” available to order at the Augmented Reality bar, the main course is the grand open space below deck. Upon walking down the stairs, one gets the sense of plunging into a borderless space, where images morph in and out of the walls to create a feeling that anything is possible. 

Submerge Artechouse
From the “Submerge” Exhibition at Artechouse. Courtesy of Artechouse Twitter Account.

Looking back at the work that went behind creating this cutting-edge narrative around Pantone’s Color of the Year, Sandro likened it to a “miracle”: “We have the idea and the knowledge of how it should be done but until it comes to life, it’s impossible to know the end result. That’s the beauty of being a creative – is that you really don’t know what to expect. And it’s always a beautiful surprise in the end… It just comes out as a miracle”.

Artechouse’s third installation “Intangible Forms” opens on March 3rd. 

Interview with Refik Anadol – A.I. and Machine Hallucination: The Fourth Version Of Imagination

Refik Anadol
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Few people in the world can say that they’ve seen it all. Refik Anadol has done much more than that: he has created more. His body of work locates creativity at the intersection of humans and the machines. Media Artist, Director, and Pioneer in the aesthetic of artificial intelligence, Anadol paints with a thinking brush, offering the radical visualizations of our digitized memories, along with expanding new possibilities of architecture, narrative and the body in motion. In this interview, Anadol not only pleases us in describing the creativity and passion behind his work but also enriches the conversation by making spiritual connections to what it means to be a human being.

As Anadol correctly states “when thinking about time-space and past-future, I believe that our physical sensors have incredible potential.” This is exactly what Anadol’s body of work challenges every day: the possibilities and the ubiquitous computing imposed on humankind and what it means to be a human in the age of Artificial Intelligence. One of Anadol’s most groundbreaking creation is for sure Machine Hallucination, where the artist has used 300 million publicly available images of New York City. For the WDCH Dreams exhibition instead, he accessed 100 years of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s digital archives. In Oakland’s Sense of Place, he worked with real-time environmental data; and for the Charlotte Airport’s Interconnected project, he utilized real-time airport statistics. Refik is the recipient of a great variety of awards including the Lorenzo Il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award for New Media Art, the Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award, German Design Award, UCLA Art + Architecture Moss Award, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Award, SEGD Global Design Awards, and Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence Artist Residency Award.

Listen to the Creative Interview Episode Here.

Refik Anadol joins Artistic Directors of Creative Pois-On, Tommaso Cartia and Daniela Pavan, for an intimate conversation where human nature is explored, along with its infinite possibilities and potentialities. Ready, set and imagine with this soulful artist gifted with an extraordinary ability to channel the world surrounding us into dreamy stories sparked with the power of our own imagination.

Tommaso – How did your unique art research start and when did art become such a fundamental part of your life?

Refik Anadol – I think I started my journey very at eight years old when I watched the movie Bladerunner — that movie changed my life. The same year I’ve got my first computer and that was also a very changing experience. I was always dreaming about the near future. I transformed my imagination into a form of art.

Refik Anadol
Refik Anadol in his studio

Daniela – How do you create these very intricated installations?

R – I’m obsessed with data, light, algorithms and recent A.I. intelligence. Eight years ago, I discovered the VVVV software. Without writing a code, you can connect notes and create a meaningful software algorithmic logic to pretty much anything: the sound, the text, the visual, the data eventually.

T — Is it something that is now in development? 

R — It’s been more than fifteen years actually. They mostly use it in Germany, but it’s now all over the world. I’ve been using it for ten years now.

T — You put all of this into Machine Hallucination that it’s now on display at the ARTECHOUSE in NYC. Can you tell us more about it? 

R — I’m very inspired by how we as humans can perceive things and create a memory and dream with that. With A.I., we can now experience this feeling like a narrative, as a new form of cinema. I use mounting memories, adopting the A.I. to visualize our memories, particularly the actual moment of remembering.  I’m trying to combine A.I., neuroscience, and architecture to produce the hallucination of buildings and environments transforming in space and time. I want to display the memory of a building. I think it’s an incredible story and narrative that can inspire and create new ways of imagination. Machine hallucination is the fourth version of this imagination. 

ARTECHOUSE NYC | Machine Hallucination • Artist Insight: Refik Anadol

D Art is a way to tell stories, data and numbers are a way to justify decisions – creativity meets logic… it’s like when the impossible becomes possible. How do you build this bridge?

I’m thinking about these experiences as a cinema, instead of just sculptures or paintings. Memory in the 21st century is also data – our likes, shares and comments, the technology we’re using every day, is a form of memory. This is one of the reasons why this project is letting audiences being inside the story by immersing themselves in it. You’re stepping inside of the machine. It’s not fake and the feeling of stepping inside is honest, is real.

T – It seems to me that your work, speaks, profoundly, about the individuality of the human being and of the universe we live in. When you talk about dreams and hallucinations, are you thinking in a scientific way or a spiritual one? And, how do you personally approach the mystery of the unknown?

R – If you think about memories and dreams, there’s the human soul. And emotions are much more complicated cognitive capacities of the human perception. Spirituality comes from the perception of time. The artwork should be communicated through different emotional impacts. We are surrounded by these machines and constantly moving by algorithms. The big question is, what does it truly mean to be a human in the 21st century? I think that the answer lies in the spiritual connection between humanity and technology.

WDCH Dreams
WDCH Dreams by Refik Anadol

T — What kind of response you got from the audience that really inspires you to progress with your research?

R — In the last three years, I think I’ve touched people in different ways. I’ve emotionally reached people that later sent me some very personal messages. I remember that one time somebody spent 5 hours in the Machine Hallucination exhibit, technically is a half an hour experience. In another installation of mine, Melting Memories, people experience such transformative feelings that they can stay in for three hours, and they don’t want to leave.

For more info on Refik Anadol please visit: