Island of the colourblind

Sanne de Wilde

In the late 18th century a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the survivors, the king, carried the rare achromatopsia-gen that causes complete colorblindness. The king went on to have many children and as time passed by, the hereditary condition affected the isolated community and the islanders started seeing the world in black and white. This phenomenon was first described by neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks. Portraying the islanders (who by their fellow Micronesians are referred to as »blind«) and their island resulted in a conceptual selection of images that mask or emphasize the eyes, face, or their »vision« and invite the viewer to enter a dreamful world of colorful possibilities. The Island of the Colorblind consists of »normal« digital images converted to black and white and infrared images. A third series within the project are the achromatic picture-paintings – the artist had asked achromats in the Netherlands to paint color back into the black and white images. Flames light up in black and white, trees turn pink, a thousand shades of grey, a rainbow revisited.


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