Representations of space through colours – a request for help

An inquiry from a colleague:

How can we think about representations of space through colours? Can people refer recommended sources that examine the use of colours as metaphors for and representations of space? This is not about race – i.e. white, black or colour. Uses of colour crop up in relation to terms such as ‘red zone’, places such as ‘red square’, the ‘Pink Tide’ in Latin America, ‘black ops’, and, especially, ‘whiteness’ as a metaphor for weather (snow as the obvious referent), but also counterrevolution (thinking of El Lissitsky ‘Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge’), or whiteness (as light, as emptiness, as silence). Any thoughts or pointers on space and colour, specifically in relation to literary geographies and the representations of space?

Please add any thoughts as comments to this post. Thanks for any suggestions.

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11 Responses to Representations of space through colours – a request for help

  1. Bary Ryan says:

    Xavier Guillaume has done work on this and has published his work in an edited collection (2015) with Rune Andersen and Juha Vuor. Colours. Making Things International, edited by Mark B. Salter. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

  2. stuartelden says:

    I’ve also suggested Jeffrey Cohen’s edited collection Prismatic Ecology –

  3. Stephen Taylor says:

    Slightly tangential,but potentially worth contacting one of our PhD students here at QMUL who is completing some really interesting work on colour ‘in’ space:

  4. Pete O'Toole says:

    The anti-globalization movement is known for its use of colours: black-bloc, pink-bloc, Tute Bianche

  5. Pete O'Toole says:

    – This is probably a bit wide of the mark: It’s a comment that Michel Foucault made about his relation to structuralism in the recent (lost) video interview. The remark stood out for me for another reason but I’ll post it here anyway. The idea here is probably not what you have in mind but there’s no harm in reading it.

    “Image a photograph representing a face. If you make this image go from positive to negative in a way all the dots of the picture are going to be modified. That is to say, all the points that were white will become black and that all the points that were black will become white. None of the points, none of the elements therefore remain identical. And yet you can recognise the face. And yet the face remains the same though it has gone from positive to negative, and you can say that is stays the same; you recognise it because all the relations between all these different elements have remained the same. Relations between the points have stayed the same, or the relations of contrast and of opposition between white and black have remained the same, even though each dot that was white has become black and each point that was black has become white. Deep down, in a very broad sense of what structuralism is we can say that structuralism is the method of analysis that consists of drawing constant relations from elements that in themselves, in their own character, in their substance, can change…”

  6. Xavier Guillaume says:


    As Barry mentioned (thanks) we are working on colour-use and IR/security. The piece Barry mentioned is analyzing flags from what we termed a material semiotics perspective. We have a more theoretical piece which should be out very soon with Security Dialogue on visual semiotics and colour-use as well as an analysis of colour-use in military uniforms in the west and the related evolution of the social imaginaries linked to the battlefield (EJIR online first).

    I directly replied to the person behind the query, but wanted to share this here if some people are interested.


  7. Jean Hillier says:

    Have a look at Clare Colebrook’s work on colour as sensation (eg ‘red’) following Deleuze’s ‘Logic of Sense’. Also Brian Massumi’s ‘Parables for the Virtual’.

  8. Pingback: Top posts this week on Progressive Geographies | Progressive Geographies

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