MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Do lighter colors appear to be on top of darker colors on a 2-d surface

Date: Wed Jan 22 02:27:26 2003
Posted By: Werner Sieber, Research Scientist, Coating Effects,
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1041187250.Ph

Dear Justin,
The key word of your question is "appear". You are probably aware that 
this makes it more of a psychological than a physical question. The whole 
business of color involves those two fields. 
I don't think your question can be decided one way or the other. It is my 
guess that it depends more on the way the two colored areas are separated 
from each other, on the size of the patches, and on their hue, whether one 
appears to be on top. In a landscape painting, parts that should appear 
far away are painted in blueish, unsaturated hues, with fuzzy borders, 
whereas closeup objects are rendered in more saturated tones. I think 
painters like Rothko (in some of his abstract works) went to great length 
to avoid the impression of a 3-D space, and to keep the appearance 2-
Best Regards
Werner Sieber

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