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Publisher: Journals Gateway
Leonardo (2000) 33 (4): 305–313.
Published: 01 August 2000
AbstractView article PDF
The author discusses James Turrell's artworks in relation to contemporary disputes about the nature of color. The idea of Turrell's pieces as “pure chromatic sensations” is implausible to per-ceptual psychologists who have adopted the ecological approach of J.J. Gibson. Such psychologists view visual sensations as mere symptoms of the stimulation of the photoreceptors in our retinae. Their idea goes against the tradi-tional theory of color. The ten-dency of philosophers throughout history has been to take colors to be the exemplary instances of simple, unanalyzable qualities. However, the difficulties of prov-ing that these qualities can be traced back to a set of material properties suggest that there is no coherent view on their ontologi-cal status. The author considers current efforts to address this problem, along with the relevance of these attempts to criticism of Turrell's artworks.