The Island of the Colorblind

By Sanne De Wilde

AED 250.00

The Island of the Colorblind.
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In the late eighteenth century a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the sole 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 most islanders started seeing the world in black and white.Achromatopsia is characterized by extreme light sensitivity, poor vision, and complete inability to distinguish colors. Achromats in Federated States of Micronesia adapt to their reduced level of visual functioning (due lack of recourses like sunglasses and tinted lenses) by using visual strategies such as blinking, squinting, shielding their eyes, or positioning themselves in relation to light sources.Portraying the islanders that by their fellow Micronesians are described as ‘blind’ resulted in a conceptual selection of images that mask their eyes, their face, or their ‘vision’ and at the same time invites the viewer to enter a dreamful world painted by colorless and colorful possibilities. Color is just a word to those who cannot see it. What if the colorblind people paint with their mind, how would they color the world, the trees, themselves. Initiating my visual research in FSM I tried to find ways to envision how people with achromatopsia see the world. I tried to see the island through their eyes. Daylight is to bright to bear, moonlight turns night into day, colors dance around in shades we cannot imagine. Imagine flames lighting up in black and white, trees turning pink, waves of grey. A rainbow revisited. The islanders often refer to green as their favourite color, growing up in a lush environment, living in the jungle. But green is also the color that the most common kind of colorblindness (deutaranomaly, five out of 100 males) can’t distinguish. I learned that the color the islanders say to ‘see’ most is red. I photog