Interaction of Color addresses black and white in terms of value, as well as hue. The text speaks with complexity and nuance on black and white as colors—that white is not just white, nor is black only black. One learns quickly that you can no longer simply call one thing “black” when another black form is placed next to it, and the same goes for white. Within this ambiguity comes clarity; black and white become specific when placed alongside other similar versions of themselves, or any other thing for that matter.
The Albers book also addresses the conditionality of color, how color can exist in our imagination, and when color is communicated, how it can get lost in translation. This leads to the question of whether color is only relative to given situations. Albers smartly instructs that color is more than passive; he states in so many examples that color is interactive, and it can be determined and purposely activated when the group comes together to reason through what it sees. Additionally, it disavows a single, overarching reading. Albers speaks to the failings of teachers within this context—that the teacher can also be put to question. Open-mindedness in this instance becomes progress, and a part of the solution by working in a group to solve problems with reasoned consensus and resolve.
One of the more important points brought to light in Interaction of Color is transparency. This aspect involves the best of one’s imagination. When two colors are brought together in a transparency mix, the third color becomes a new color, not a mix of the two. This third color, whatever it may be, speaks to uniqueness and specificity. Albers also emphasizes that color should be considered for its value, inasmuch as for its saturation. This helps to give color its meaning within the specificity of a place. Outside of this, it is group perception that can activate colors and give them purpose within a space.
George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis Police makes it clear that the systematic brutality of institutional racism cannot be ignored, and the killing of Black people by police can no longer be allowed to continue. This abhorrent situation correlates with Albers’s insistence against the negative judgment of color. He wants us to recognize our biases and work against “taste” to see that no single color can be called distasteful, nor “ugly.” A goal in this book is to understand that color does not stand alone; that it can be understood with greater clarity when it stands next to another color to give it context. This is its value—as a means of encouraging people to work together, to build trust in the process of establishing a consensus that goes far beyond the limits of our individual perceptions.