The incredible images that show how a colour-blind person sees the world (and why it might explain Van Gogh”s genius)Vision expert Kazunori Asada sees Van Gogh”s work in room where lighting is altered to give effect of colour-blindness
Asada explains how the “incongruity of color and roughness had quietly disappeared … And each picture had changed into one of brilliance with very delicate lines and shades”Creates tool and app which allows anyone to run their own photographs through colour-blindness filter
An expert in colour science has hit upon an intriguing idea on why Van Gogh painted as he did – and his insights could change the way we view the Master”s art.
It has long-been rumoured than Van Gogh was colour-blind, and this theory is often cited as to why the artist painted with such bold strokes and vibrant, occasionally quirky hues.
When Japanese-based Kazunori Asada, giving a speech in Hokkaido about vision deficiencies, found himself viewing Van Gogh”s work in a room illuminated to give the impression of colour-blindness, he found the pieces of art transformed into even better pieces of art.
He has now converted Van Gogh”s work through the lens of colour-blindness – and shared his tool so you can try the experiment with your own choice of pictures – to see if others agree that Van Gogh looks better through impaired vision.
How life looks to the colour-blind:
These sequences are as close a rendition as Asada has been able to re-create in a tool available to the public
Stunning: Photography from Iceland shows us a vivid landscape of red and green, as lava flows underneath the Northern Lights
But the landscape gets lost, with green and reds sapped from the picture: To a colour-blind viewer, some of the spectacular imagery is muted
Revellers perform on the colourful family day at the Notting Hill Carnival this Bank Holiday
The same scene, but through the eyes of the colourblind: Colours are more muted and changed
A purple-grey sky overshadows Nebraska, as storm-clouds rush over America this week
Lacking the ability to see red hues, a colour-blind viewer will see a different landscape, with more watered-down colours
The fireworks of the closing ceremony of the London Olympics 2012, seen through full vision…
… And seen again through a colour-blind filter, where the fireworks take on a blue tint
Van Gogh: Better on the left (original) or the right (altered)
Before and after: Asad runs The Starry Night through filter changes to see how the image looks when colour-blind
A close-up look: Original first followed by altered
What we are used to seeing: The Starry Night, 1889, in it”s original, unaltered state
Improvement Viewed through a colour-blind lens, the textures and mood alters subtly, the outlines become less harsh, and the colours take on a different hue
Speaking of his experiences, he said: The “Color Vision Experience Room” used illumination filtered by an optical filter – providing a modified spectrum of light.
“In this room, the person who has normal color vision sees color the same as the personwho has protan or deutan color vision.
These types of color deficiency mean that certain color combinations are difficult to differentiate.
“There were prints of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings in the room.
Under thefiltered light, I found that these paintings looked different from the van Gogh which I had always seen.
SO WAS VAN GOGH COLOURBLIND
Van Gogh, 1853 -1890, is one of the most famous artists to have ever lived.
However he never achieved fame in his lifetime, leaving areas of his life a mystery to us.
Ithas been suggested, due to Van Gogh”s use of colours and occasional drawing of halos around lights, that he suffered wither colour-blindnessor a form of intermittent closed angle glaucoma.
Thepainter regularly drew coloured halos around light , especially in images painted at night, which occurs with this condition.
Hisheavy use of yellows in many painting implies this colour was either a favourite of his – or that he had a colour-blindness that made him use yellow intensely to create his perfect images.
He added: “I love van Gogh’s paintings and have been fortunate to view a number of the originals in various art museums.
This painter has a somewhat strange way to use color.
“Although the use of color is rich, lines of different colors run concurrently, or a pointof different color suddenly appears.
I’ve heard it conjectured that vanGogh had color vision deficiency.
“However, in the van Gogh images seen in the color vision experience room, to me the incongruity of color and roughness of line had quietly disappeared.
“And each picture had changed into one of brilliance with very delicate lines and shades. This was truly wonderful experience.”
A typical sunset over the South Downs National Park, in West Sussex, England…
And the same image as seen through the filet, where both the sky and the fields take on different hues
Another picture from the Notting Hill carnival shows another reveller dressed in an elaborate outfit
…But without colour, some of the impact of the costume is lost, taking an almost monotone style instead
Kazunori Asada compares The Cafe Terrace at Night (left: normal vision, right: 60% protanomal simulation). Scroll down for a more in-depth look
Improving the scene The original Cafe Terrace at Night appears here, with the tweaked version below
… The colourblind version: Using filters washes out some of the green of the images, perhaps showing the picture as Van Gogh intended
HOW THE WORLD LOOKS IN COLOUR
People with normal colour vision can see the full spectrum – blue, green and red light. This is called “trichromacy”.
The photo-receptor cells within the eyes (the “cones”) do the translation work for us, but some people are missing one cone.
Protanopia, the most common, is lacking red receptors, and is the type emulated in these Van Gogh images.
The others are deuteranopia – a lack of green receptors – and tritanopia, which is the lack of blue receptors.
He continued: “One of my friends who has protanomal color vision, a designer and painter, said this to me:
“”Isn’t it wonderful We color deficient people have understood Gogh’s true wonderfulness and we have said that he is the genius of geniuses.
“But color normal people do not understand it well, seemingly.
“Gogh was surely color vision deficiency.
“Therefore, color deficient people can better understand his pictures.”
Asada has created the “Chromatic Vision Simulator” tool, available on PC, iPhone and Android, which allows normal-sighted people to see images through the eyes of those with one of the three usual colour deficiencies.
Users can upload any image and play with the different filters to see how an approximation of how it looks to someone with colour-blindness.
Van Gogh”s self-portrait comes in a different hue when seen originally (left) and as a protanomal simulation
Van Gogh”s self portrait, seen originally here…
… And as it would appear to someone with altered vision
The unaltered original, with more freen and more vivid brush-strokes…
Closer to Van Gogh”s vision – or a less accurate portrayal of his Wheat Field under Threatening Skies
Try your own pictures with the tool at Asada”s blog.