HC 421H: Color as Cultural Labor

Professor: Esther Hagenlocher

4.00 credits

  • CRN 22631: Monday & Wednesday, 1015-1145 @ REMOTE

This course borrows its title from the invitation, by the late Felix Gonzales-Torres, to look upon all creative practices simply as 'cultural labor,' regardless of specialization, is today more relevant than ever. This notion embraces the vision of 'cultural labor' and requires an attentiveness in equal measure to the mechanics and the poetics of everyday life. This mindset is driven neither by concept nor style. Color in the service of culture prioritizes the performative potential of the memory and the material, visual communication and language, and, ultimately, daily life to be played out within. Seeing and perceiving color is a sensory experience that depends on different conditions and one's awareness. It is a complex process involving physics, chemistry, physiology, psychology, aesthetics, art, and culture. In this course, students will learn about theories of color and examine how these theories have changed over time due to scientific discoveries and cultural shifts. The reconstruction of past experiences always conveys present perspectives. How can we sharpen the awareness of the interrelations between those layers, and how do they shape our dynamics to envision the unknown? This framework founded upon the precept of 'cultural labor' is offered in the hopes that an appreciation of color. Altogether, they may turn their curiosities toward the quiet resonance of the patterns of everyday life and find ways to both facilitate and illuminate the power of and through color. Students will devote time to reading and writing and class exercises designed to help them arrive at their interpretations of color. In incorporating a studio element along with traditional seminar techniques, the course will both resemble and differ from typical Honors College colloquia. By the end of the course, students will not only have a knowledge of the history of color but also will have developed a personal theory of color based on what they learn and on their own experience.