Cellular Automata – The Force of Color

Colors form a space, seemingly continuous and varying, much like the space of our reality.  Such a space might seem easy to picture, much like a rainbow, colors seeping into each other, becoming something new and different.  Yet what is the structure of such a space?  Certainly there must be more than just an endless blending of colors.  The questions isn’t an easy one to answer because it turns out that there are already a number of structures for giving color spatial form.  In these experiments, the space of colors is explored by thinking of that space much like gravity or as a force that shapes and curves the space around it.

Color Space Diagram


Much like painters mixing paint, computer scientists and color theorists have created a number of systems for categorizing colors.  One of the most used today is the RGB color space, which is designed for light emitting surfaces and is primarily used for displaying color on computer monitors.  To define a color in the RGB space one must specify three numbers, the first representing the amount of red, the second, the amount of green and finally the third, the amount of blue.  These three intensities define can define many colors, though suprisingly not all colors can be defined using most modern RGB systems.  Small amounts are let through the cracks.  Still it is useful for out purposes in our exploration of color as a force acting on and shaping a space.  To do this, each value of the RGB system is mapped onto a corresponding XYZ axis in a standard Cartesian grid.  Yet this space is something more than a standard Cartesian grid, which is empty un-affective.  Our space is filled with intensive color that drives and curves the Cartesian grid.

To visualize the color space we need a process that will actualize the intensive values of the color space into a discrete form that we can visualize.  Like all processes of actualization, we need an intensive seed that will grow into our form.  For the purposes of this experiment, I used three images, reduced down in resolution to make them more manageable.  Each was then run through a cellular automata process that through time shifted and contrasted the color shifts and structures of each images.  This constituted a wave of force applied to a plane as it deformed in time, each time step of the cellular automata is applied in succession.  The deformed plan then takes on a characteristic structure of the color shifts of the image as it would vary in RGB space.

After several iterations using different images a few characteristics become clear.  RGB color space has a distinct orientation along the three dimensional diagonal of RGB space.  This is because in RGB space black is defined as 0, 0, 0 and white as 255, 255, 255.  Most colors exist far from the bright poles of red, green or blue and instead exist as tints and shades of the more muddier colors in the middle of RGB space.  Mind you, one could design an image that would find itself existing at the bright edges, but most images will exist along the diagonal between black and white.

If you would like to see more about how the experiments please feel free to download the Mathematica code as a PDF.  All I ask is if you use any of the material, you credit me with it.


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