To help people with normal color vision understand how people with color deficiencies see the world, I use diptychs to compare how people with “normal” vision and with severe red deficiency perceive the same color images.
Seeing color is something that those of us with normal color vision take for granted. People with color deficiencies make clear that our senses, including seeing color, are subjective. "Colorblind" has been applied to people with a wide range of color deficiencies, most of which are inherited as X-linked recessive traits. My son, Brandt, who has severe red deficiency like his maternal grandfather, has said:
“’Colorblind’ as a term is sort of a misnomer in that even extremely colorblind people see colors - they just see them differently than people who are not ‘colorblind.’ Unfortunately, many people are ignorant regarding this. The most ignorant comments seem to generally involve references to black and white television…which is not in the right ballpark.”
I set out to create diptychs in which both images appear the same to someone with severe red deficiency. My son has confirmed that they do. Skin tones shocked me, while things we see somewhat similarly pleased me.
I have attached a composited image of the RGB (additive light - white is the presence of all colors, black the absence) color system to illustrate how color deficiencies affect seeing color, so that the profound differences between images in the diptychs are more easily understood.
Andrew: “sometimes I wish people could see what I saw.” My son has never said that directly, but he has spent time and thought going through the diptychs with me.
This project illustrates seeing color with severe red deficiency. I plan in the future to address other types and degrees of color deficiencies, to increase understanding by allowing people to “see” through the eyes of others.
For a further discussion of this topic, see my blog post on "Seeing Color Colorblind.
These RGB color wheels
show how a red deficiency affects all other colors.
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