I lose my brain to Cracked every so often, and sometimes they even publish something useful.

http://www.cracked.com/article_20629_6-ways-life-insanely-different-when-you-hear-colors.html

I didn't realize #4 was a synaesthetic thing, although I really should have -- I do know how eyes work. I suppose that explains my eternal frustration at not being able to color things to match what I see in my head. And also why other people have no idea what I mean when I describe something as 'that peculiar shade of teal-purple'.

It does happen with purely imaginary colors -- pterry's octarine is a color which is pumpkin orange and at the same time kelly green, hth -- but it also kicks in sometimes with things that exist in the real world. I gather from the common descriptions of colors "shifting" that  most people perceive things like peacock feathers and opals and iridescent glass beads as magically changing from one color to another as their viewing angle changes. I do see what they're getting at; if I look at them and mentally reduce the image to the 2D plane I use for drawing, then I can see them as a swatch of yellow that blends into a swatch of green that blends into a swatch of indigo that's embedded in a field of black, the same way that I can see a figure as a collection of overlapping shapes and angles.

If I don't consciously reduce them to the drawing plane, they are all of those colors simultaneously. It's a bit like if each of those vivid shades existed as lighting gels which were stacked within the object, with light reflected and refracted within the stack, except that if you do that with real gels and real light you just get mud at the surface -- the colors exist independently within the stack and do not mix. They're just all there. I don't have to shift focus up and down the layers, they're just all there. I don't know any better way to explain it.

And no, I don't have to be on any drugs to see it. Although you might get a better grip on it if you take a lot of acid and then get back to me. It's certainly stronger on hallucinogens, but it took me a good goddamn long time to realize that those were what other people call "open-eye" or "closed-eye visuals", because I already do that. Swimming in chemicals just makes them pop more and get more distracting.

I find it aggravating as all get-out that I can't do that with pencils, especially since most of the things that evoke the phenomenon are colors that appear on a field sable. I have a lot of mica pigments in my makeup collection, because layering those on a couple of different shades of shimmer eyeshadow is probably the closest I've been able to get to replicating those colors in the real world. The transmissive depth of skin helps. Light penetrates the top couple layers of skin cells and bounces around before it gets back out; that helps sell the impression of a color depth greater than the physical thickness of the paint layers.

I don't specifically know what triggers it, but it may have something to do with UV reactivity. I don't think I'm seeing into the ultraviolet -- I'm not that much of a mutant -- but I'm sensitive to whatever it produces via reaction, and titanium whites blooming into the purplish range is a regular part of my migraine auras. (White linoleum tiles under fluorescent lights ache like the mother of all eye strains, like I've somehow managed to over-exercise my irises, right before the headache gnome starts stabbing me in the back of the eyeball.) Things that UV-glow do it a lot. Chemical-luminescent things like glowsticks don't, and acrylic or glass pieces lit with internal refraction from hidden LEDs or bulbs don't, but stuff that glows under a blacklight always has a vivid purple overtone no matter what the visible glow color is. Tonic water is bright cyan-royal purple under blacklights. One of the reasons I fucking hated Arizona is that the desert skies that come out so blue in photographs don't look like that to me; the glare was so omnipresent and overwhelming that everything outside just bleached out white like cow bones most of the year, and I couldn't see a goddamn thing without it eventually starting to hurt. I started wearing blacker-than-black mascara partly because staring at things through my eyelashes helps.

This may or may not have anything to do with how I nitpick all my electronic displays. Anything that has a color adjustment on it, I keep set well to the blue side of PAL. It drives other people slightly bonkers and is supposed to be terrible for graphic artists, but I seem to do all right with it. Adjusting for NTSC standard whites instead looks rusty and dim, and eventually results in headaches. 6500K is all right, but I seem to recall the last time I had a CRT that explicitly listed color temps I had it jacked all the way up into the 9000K range before it was comfortable.

It also may or may not have anything to do with colorblindness. Some form of red-green colorblindness runs on my mother's side of the family; I don't have an exact diagnosis, because they don't give you those unless you really push, but my maternal grandfather failed basically all the color tests you have to pass to become a pilot in the Army Air Corps in WWII, and ended up a radio tech instead. I'm given to understand he was a pretty good cammo spotter, although they kept transferring him away from the front, because God knows you don't want to lose the one guy who can fix just about anything that runs on electricity. It doesn't run in Dad's family, at least that I know of, so I don't have it -- and if it makes the deuteranopics in the audience feel any better, those salmon pink and light teal number plates you can't see are fucking obnoxious to me, because they're two completely opposite hues with the same saturation, and they bicker -- and if I am a tetrachromat, it doesn't test well on computer screens. I can color-match from memory, and do it all the time when I have to go back to the fabric store for more thread or buttons or something, but that may be down to eideitic memory more than anything.

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