As a young man really sinking my teeth into what it meant to be painter in undergraduate school, I’ll never forget the day our professor hauled out the legendary Josef Albers book on the Interaction of Color. Hers was a really well-loved copy with loose pages spilling out from the tired binding here and there. The paper of each page was worn at the edges, but the color plates remained vibrant to the eye, having been carefully protected from water and sunlight over the years.
I’ll never forget leafing through all the thoughtfully designed lessons throughout, each making more and more sense as we went along. My perception of how we things presented themselves to the eye was permanently changed from that day on. I lifted the pages and examined them in different lights, carefully noticing subtle shifts in how planes of color interacted given the tiniest of adjustments. The book was handed over to us as a treasure, already a rarity at the time, as original copies were becoming harder and harder to find.
Thanks to the i-revolution, now all young artists need to have Albers teach them these stunning revelations is an iPad. Don’t look back, you read that correctly. Coming to us through the work of Potion Design for Yale University Press and now for sale on Apple’s App store, students are able to learn all there is to know about color from sliding their fingers across an interactive screen. The pages exist to be experienced as mediated via interactive technology, each lesson formatted to the slick screen in the same way that all exchange of information or knowledge seems to be headed these days.
Generational advancement? Revolutionary art education leap? Experiential Travesty? I may be leaning towards a feeling of suspicion, but don’t listen to me, decide for your self here. After you do, let me know what you think. Maybe I’m just too sentimental about that wonderful day back in Connecticut, holding that prismatic treasure of an actual book in my hands. I imagine you just can’t get the same experience form a screen, even with a patented retina display. It’s possible even at the tender age of thirty that I’m just too old for this shit. After all, I initially wrote these thoughts down on a piece of paper. I still don’t have an iPad, yet.
By Matthew Hassell