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George Field

George Field

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GEORGE FIELD

George Field, rather than being a scientific investigator,
was a propounder of fancy just-so explanations. It is
interesting, therefore, that the one factoid Henry Thoreau
extracted from his oeuvre happened to be an item of cultural
anthropology that, isolated and by itself, was quite accurate.
Jakob Christof Le Blon opposed Sir Isaac Newton by putting forward a color-circle consisting of three
“primitive” colors, red, yellow, and blue, and three “mixed” colors, orange, green, and purple.
1730
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Louis-Bertrand Castel proposed a system for color music according to which the keynote C would be matched
with the color blue, C-sharp with blue-green, D with green, D-sharp with yellow-green, E with yellow, F with
yellow orange, F-sharp with orange, G with red, and so forth to B, which was to be represented as indigo (this
can be understood in retrospect to have been rather an arbitrary matching). Using the triad C/blue, E/yellow,
and G/red, he was able to construct to his own satisfaction a 12-step chromatic color-music scale that matched
approximately with the current Western musical conventions.
George Field was born.
George Field’s CHROMATICS; OR, AN ESSAY ON THE ANALOGY AND HARMONY OF COLOURS used the three
subtractive primary colors red, yellow, and blue to imagine a color harmony that could function in “aesthetic
analogy” with the harmony scheme used in Western music. He imagined that it might be possible to create
what he termed a “metrochrome” –a visual equivalent of the familiar musical metronome– to be made up,
somehow, of three calibrated wedge-shaped glass vessels filled with red, yellow and blue liquids — just as
soon as some inventive person could figure out how actually to accomplish this.
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1760
1777
1817
1. Field was far from the 1st to attempt to relate colors of light with tones of music. Athanasius Kircher had been only the most
recent of these theorists, when he had propounded that anything visible might also be rendered audible.
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George Field’s CHROMATOGRAPHY, following up on his 1817 CHROMATICS, was a discourse on colors and
pigments featuring a “colour-compass.” Continuing and elaborating on an Aristotelian tradition, Field held
color to be a phenomenon that arises out of various intertwinglings of light with darkness: where darkness
predominates we must perceive a blueness, when darkness and brightness are in equilibrium we must perceive
a redness, but where brightness predominates, a yellowness (of course nowadays all this is dismissed as merely
doofus; any one of a dozen experiments could demonstrate that it just ain’t so).
George Field’s OUTLINES OF ANALOGICAL PHILOSOPHY, BEING A PRIMARY VIEW OF THE PRINCIPLES,
RELATIONS, AND PURPOSES OF NATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART, AND A METHODOLOGICAL ENCYCLOPÆDIA
(London: Charles Tilt, Fleet Street). The gist of these two volumes was that since only God is perfect, there’s
not even a glimmer of hope that any of us could imagine the truth. Any and all scientific theories that we might
be capable of generating here below would always inherently and of necessity contain flaws and imperfections
and falsehoods (making due allowance, of course, for Mr. George Field’s overarching perfect understanding
that our understanding is inherently imperfect).
1835
1839
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George Field’s ANALOGOUS SCALE OF SOUNDS AND COLOURS proposed to alter the 1760 color/tone scheme
of Louis-Bertrand Castel by continuing to associate the keynote C with the color blue, but matching D with
purple, E with red, F with orange, G with yellow, A with yellow-green, and B with green. He based this scheme
on the triad blue/red/yellow rather than the triad blue/yellow/red.
George Field’s CHROMATICS, OR THE ANALOGY, HARMONY AND PHILOSOPHY OF COLOURS (New expanded
edition, London).
1844
1846
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George Field’s RUDIMENTS OF THE PAINTERS’ ART; OR, A GRAMMAR OF COLOURING: APPLICABLE TO
OPERATIVE PAINTING, DECORATIVE ARCHITECTURE, AND THE ARTS (London: J. Weale) provided artists with
information on the origin, composition, and properties of pigments, dyes, and paints.
George Field died. Subsequent to the studies and theories of Maxwell and Helmholtz, none of his proposals in
regard to the relationship between color vibrations and sound vibrations have been remembered — they were
such false starts, such dead ends, that they are not even taught as part of the history of science.
1850
1854
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October 15: At the age of 21, Salmon Brown married with Abbie C. Hinckley at North Elba, New York. (In this photo,
it is the 20th Century and he is in his old age.)
Henry Thoreau made reference to page 139 in George Field’s CHROMATOGRAPHY; OR, A TREATISE ON
COLOURS AND PIGMENTS, AND OF THEIR POWERS IN PAINTING (London: New Edition, Improved; Tilt and
Bogue, Fleet Street, M.DCCC.XLI).
October 15, Thursday: Rain at last, and end of the remarkable days. The springs and rivers have been
very low. Millers have not water enough to grind their grists.
There has been a great fall of leaves in the night on account of this moist and rainy weather; but hardly yet that
touch that brings down the rock maple. The streets are thickly strewn with elm and buttonwood and other leaves,
feuille-morte color. Some elms and butternuts are quite bare. Yet the sugar maples in our streets are now in their
prime and show unexpectedly bright and delicate tints, while some white maples by the river are nearly bare. I
see, too, that all locusts did not become crisp and fall before this without acquiring a bright color. In the
churchyard they are unwithered, just turning a pale yellow. How many plants are either yellow or scarlet! Not
1857
CHROMATOGRAPHY
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only maples, but rose bushes, hazel bushes, etc., etc. Rue is a conspicuous pale yellow for a weed.
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I saw the other day a cricket standing on his head in a chocolate-colored (inside) fungus, only his tail-yards
visible. He had sunk a well an inch deep, and was even then sinking it, perpendicularly, unconscious of what
was going on above.
The ten days –at least– before this were plainly Indian summer. They were remarkably pleasant and warm. The
latter half I sat and slept with an open window, though the first part of the time I had a little fire in the morning.
These succeeded to days when you had worn thick clothing and sat by fires for some time.
Our staghorn sumach has just become a very rich scarlet. So, apparently, has the large one at Mrs. Simmonds’s.
They are later than the others; a yellower scarlet, almost orange.
It is another example of the oddity of the Orientals that yellow “is in the east a regal color, more especially so
in China, where it is exclusively royal.” (Field on Colors, 139.)
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Further west it was purple, regal and imperial.
The river lower this morning than before this year. Concord Bank has suspended.
A new edition of George Field’s RUDIMENTS OF THE PAINTERS’ ART; OR, A GRAMMAR OF COLOURING:
APPLICABLE TO OPERATIVE PAINTING, DECORATIVE ARCHITECTURE, AND THE ARTS (London: J. Weale)
provided artists with information on the origin, composition, and properties of pigments, dyes, and paints.
2.Vide 20th, 1858.
3. To explain how it is that yellow came to be the color associated with the Chinese emperor: one of the terms for emperor is Huang,
a homophone for yellow, huáng. (The ahistorical Yellow Emperor Huang Ti traditionally ruling from 2698 to 2598 BCE
established the crafts and guilds. Ever since excellent nonscratchy deposits of graphite were belatedly discovered in China, we have
painted our pencils with this color traditionally associated with China and royalty in order to impute that they are of high quality.)
1858
CHROMATOGRAPHY
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: In addition to the property of others,
such as extensive quotations and reproductions of
images, this “read-only” computer file contains a great
deal of special work product of Austin Meredith,
copyright 2010. Access to these interim materials will
eventually be offered for a fee in order to recoup some
of the costs of preparation. My hypercontext button
invention which, instead of creating a hypertext leap
through hyperspace —resulting in navigation problems—
allows for an utter alteration of the context within
which one is experiencing a specific content already
being viewed, is claimed as proprietary to Austin
Meredith — and therefore freely available for use by
all. Limited permission to copy such files, or any
material from such files, must be obtained in advance
in writing from the “Stack of the Artist of Kouroo”
Project, 833 Berkeley St., Durham NC 27705. Please
contact the project at <Kouroo@kouroo.info>.
Prepared: September 8, 2010
“It’s all now you see. Yesterday won’t be over until
tomorrow and tomorrow began ten thousand years ago.”
– Remark by character “Garin Stevens”
in William Faulkner’s INTRUDER IN THE DUST
10 Copyright 2010 Austin Meredith
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ARRGH AUTOMATED RESEARCH REPORT
GENERATION HOTLINE
This stuff presumably looks to you as if it were generated by a
human. Such is not the case. Instead, upon someone’s request we
have pulled it out of the hat of a pirate that has grown out of
the shoulder of our pet parrot “Laura” (depicted above). What
these chronological lists are: they are research reports
compiled by ARRGH algorithms out of a database of data modules
which we term the Kouroo Contexture. This is data mining.
To respond to such a request for information, we merely push a
button.
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Commonly, the first output of the program has obvious
deficiencies and so we need to go back into the data modules
stored in the contexture and do a minor amount of tweaking, and
then we need to punch that button again and do a recompile of
the chronology — but there is nothing here that remotely
resembles the ordinary “writerly” process which you know and
love. As the contents of this originating contexture improve,
and as the programming improves, and as funding becomes
available (to date no funding whatever has been needed in the
creation of this facility, the entire operation being run out
of pocket change) we expect a diminished need to do such tweaking
and recompiling, and we fully expect to achieve a simulation of
a generous and untiring robotic research librarian. Onward and
upward in this brave new world.
First come first serve. There is no charge.
Place your requests with <Kouroo@kouroo.info>.
Arrgh.

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