Home Games & Tech I’ve opened your mind, you’re now colourblind

I’ve opened your mind, you’re now colourblind


Theo Stone addresses an issue that’s sure to leave you feeling blue (or gold). 

On Friday 27th February, the United States Congress passed a bill that ensured Net Neutrality across the Internet. What this means is that, regardless of the size of data being transferred, the data will be transferred at the same speed and for free. In other words, a victory for the general public.

However, this event was forced under the boot of another story, or rather, a question. Is this dress blue and black, or is it white and gold?

Well, according to the manufacturer, it’s blue and black.


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The original dress that is, very much, black and blue.

However, those who saw it as white and gold shouldn’t feel sad. Which colours you see depends upon how your eyes work out colour in a sunlit world. The brain is required to avoid seeing the colour of the light reflecting off the object, and simply see the colour of the object itself. The sun may be yellow, but we see shirts as white. A similar system is present in cameras.

Some people are wired differently. Certain people tend to discount blue, but retain white. The same applies for the black and the gold. Furthermore, as the time of day shifts, people adjust to the changing daylight and temporal norms. Because of the fact that an ambient night sky might appear blue, people will be more likely to see the dress as white and gold as the day draws to a close.


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The different, and pretty amazing, appearances of the same dress.

Alongside this, a phenomena known as ‘Colour Constancy’, also enters into the problem. Despite our changing surroundings, we are able to retain a consistent understanding of colour, therefore allowing us to constantly see a MacBook as silver. However, because of the fact that the picture of the dress contains very little information about its surrounding environment, it means that the brain begins to interpret its colours based solely on the light falling on it. Therefore, we are more susceptible to disagreeing on the colour.

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The day the picture of the dress hit the internet, even big names decided to join the twitter debate.

In accordance with this, the fact that the surroundings in the picture are minimised means that our eyes are likely to take information about our own surroundings as a means of interpreting the colour of the picture, despite the locational difference. Those who look at it in a room lit by neon lights will perceive the colours differently to those who look at it outside.

And now, because I’m a Philosophy student, I feel obliged to show you this:

This is Joseph Jastrow’s drawing of a Rabbit.

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Joseph Jastrow’s drawing of a Rabbit.

Or is it of a Duck?

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his book Philosophical Investigations, popularized the image. When you look at the drawing, you can see it as both a Duck and a Rabbit despite the fact that you have not altered it. Whilst you can’t see them together, you can see each individually. This is “aspect-switching”, wherein you see one aspect, such as the duck’s bill, and then reinterpret it as a rabbit’s ears. The image can alter its content depending on the definition we assign an aspect of the drawing.

Whilst we may not be able to switch the colours of the dress as freely as we can with the identity of the Duckrabbit, the basic ideas still apply. We can see something that, and we can see something as. In this case, when we see either colour, we are reporting that we see said colour. In addition, we can see it as a dress (seeing that), but we can note a particular aspect (the colour), where we then proceed to see it as something, and thus place special meaning onto it.

But it’s still black and blue.


Theo Stone

Blue and black, or gold and white? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or by email at exepose-games@xmedia.ex.ac.uk. For more on everything else games and tech, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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