What We Learned This Week: UFO Green and Proton Purple, or Living Coral?

By David Schonauer   Friday December 14, 2018

We get the colors we deserve:

Shutterstock has predicted that three colors — UFO Green, Plastic Pink and Proton Purple — will dominate the year ahead. “By collapsing pixel data and hex codes, we discovered the colors our customers can’t get enough of,” noted the stock giant, adding, “If we look to the ideas influencing culture today, technology stands at the forefront.”

“The colors we love in any given season reflect more than trends in fashion, home decor, or design – they represent our cultural moment,” noted the company. “Take the subdued, pastel shades of the ’50s. Clean robin’s egg blue or pale, pat-of-butter yellow gave people a sense of peace and safety after a tumultuous decade of war. The natural greens and browns of the ’70s aligned with the growing conservationist movement, and the first Earth Day.”

And today we live in what Shutterstock called a “tech-crazy world.” In that regard, UFO Green “evokes lush countrysides alongside whirling rows of binary code (a la The Matrix).” Plastic Pink, on the other hand, “harkens back to a certain iconic toy but carries a whole new intensity in meaning,” while likening Proton Purple to “buzzing neon signs, humming devices, vibrating phones.”

Meanwhile, noted The Washington Post, the trend forecasters and color experts at Pantone have a more serene take on the year ahead. At Art Basel, the company announced that the color of the year for 2019 is  Living Coral, a “life-affirming” and “nurturing” shade.

“With everything that’s going on today, we’re looking for those humanizing qualities because we’re seeing online life dehumanizing a lot of things,” Laurie Pressman, the Pantone Color Institute’s vice president, explained. “We’re looking toward those colors that bring nourishment and the comfort and familiarity that make us feel good.”

To put this in perspective: Last December, Pantone announced that the color for 2018 would be Ultra Violet — a purple shade, which, as the company noted, combined both red and blue. Somehow, this was seen as a call for political bipartisanship.

And we know how that turned out.

Living Coral was chosen because it conveys a sense of optimism. “In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy,” noted Pantone.

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week:

1.  Glenna Gordon Wins Aftermath Grant

Photographer Glenna Gordon has won the 2019 Aftermath Grant for her project “American Women,” noted PDN. Gordon plans to use the $25,000 grant to expand on her recent series “American Women of the Far Right” to cover women fighting for social justice. The Aftermath Project, founded by photographer and filmmaker Sara Terry, supports documentary photography that addresses the legacy of conflict. “I hope to create conversations that grapple directly with our nation’s unhealed wounds,” notes Gordon in her project proposal.

2. A Visual Archive of Edible Plants

Lots of photographers have rejoiced in the beauty of plants. Jimmy Fike likes the one you can eat. Fike has amassed a visual archive of 140 edible plants from across 15 states, noted The Washington Post. He sees his archive as a reliable guide for people to identify edible plants around them and to encourage them to rethink their spiritual relationship with the plant kingdom. Fike, who is not a botanist, collects his plants by traveling to artist residencies, driving so he can stop along the way to collect more specimens.

3.  Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher Continue to Record Africa's Vanishing Cultures

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have been photographing indigenous tribal cultures of Africa for four decades. Their newest book, a two-volume set titled "African Twilight: The Vanishing Cultures and Ceremonies of the African Continent," completes their remarkable journey and reveals sights that can no longer be seen, we noted: The photographers say that more than 40 percent of what they have documented has already disappeared.

4. Albert Watson's Take on the Pirelli Calendar

When photographer Albert Watson was tapped to photograph the 2019 Pirelli calendar, he knew that he wanted to do something drastically different from the sexually overt brand of images that the glossy calendar is known for. “I wanted to do something more complex, to make it like a fine art object in itself,” Watson told Time. The 40-image calendar features models Gigi Hadid and Laetitia Casta, ballet dancer Misty Copeland, and actress Julia Garner in narratives about women who are determined to achieve their dreams and passions.

5. Canine portraitist Andrew Pinkham

Some pet photographers capture dogs catching treats and jumping into swimming pools. Andrew Pinkham’s portraits eschew frivolity and cuteness for elegance: His images echo 17th-century Dutch interior paintings by Johannes Vermeer and the work of 18th-century Romanticists such as John Constable and George Stubbs, noted The Bark. Pinkham's images are composites blending photos of his canine subjects with evocative backgrounds. He began developing his style in 2008 with photos of his greyhound.

At top: From Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher


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