Meet the artist whose genetic mutation means she can see 100 times more colors than you

Originally published at: Meet the artist whose genetic mutation means she can see 100 times more colors than you | Boing Boing

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She’s still got nothing on the Mantis Shrimp, which has 12 types of cones.

As the video puts it:

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Awesome piece, I read it in its entirety yesterday in the Guardian, good read.

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It must be very confusing growing up and not making sense of how other people describe colors, but then color vision has always been strange, even for people with normal eyes. What we see as different colors depends so much on culture and language.

In the opposite end you have John Daltons famous writings on how he discovered he was color blind:

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Like “super-tasters” people with the mutation have to practice and hone their skills. So, it’s not a matter of just having the gene. The case isn’t so black-and-white, as it were.

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That reminds me of a radiolab story from a while back that delved into the human relationship with the color blue. For a long, long time it really wasn’t something people tended to perceive as a unique color, and that probably changed around the time that people started to make artificial blue pigments.

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i wonder if i might have a similar genetic difference. i got a perfect 0 on the farnsworth-munsell 100 hue test in five minutes and my paintings make elaborate use of color gradations.

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Color me super skeptical. I guess I’ll have to see if I can find more to read about this, and see if she’s done any empiric tests on her color vision. (I don’t doubt she’s got a mutation, I just doubt how it manifests in practice.)

Here’s why I’m so skeptical:

Imagine humans all had the color vision of dogs. Every computer monitor and every oil paint supply store would have only those colors available.

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Then imagine one dog person suddenly gets another cone and can see RGB like us non-imaginary humans. They’d have to make their own pigments to capture the world as they see it, and photos of that artwork posted online would lose all of that additional color spectrum because the technology was setup for dog experience.

Psychedelic RGB seems like a marketing gimmick rather than an expression of seeing 100x more colors.

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I’m no tetrachromat, but SAME (maybe I am, how do you even test for that?)

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These things always sound like a bit of bull to me. It doesn’t let you see infrared or ultraviolet right? If it’s not more colors outward but more shades in between colors that sounds pretty boring. I don’t think my life would change being able to see extra shades of yellow between Lemon Chiffon and Light Goldenrod. (esp in a digital world where we struggle to reproduce color at the edges of normal human vision)

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A desktop CMYK printer can make color images most humans can recognize as resembling their world but that doesn’t mean a four-color print job can capture all the colors most humans can perceive. For example, your desktop printer can’t reproduce a really saturated orange or a day-glo neon.

If you were the only person around who perceived day-glo colors the way most of us do then that wouldn’t mean you couldn’t find a usable paint set without mixing your own pigments, it would just mean that your art might not capture every perceivable color.

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Maybe not in today’s world but there’s evidence that in certain specific situations where spotting predators or prey is critical for survival the ability to more easily distinguish colors in the yellow/tan part of the spectrum can be really critical.

Ironically those that are best at discerning details in that part of the spectrum are the people with dichromatic vision (colorblindness), not the ones with extra cone types.

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There are lots of pigments to choose from and even more possibilities if you mix them, so someone with superior color vision would still be able to create paintings that matched her vision of reality, but you are right that standard reproductions would lose the fidelity.

BTW this mutation match how almost only female cats have three colors, getting one from each copy of the X-chromosome.

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Came here to state the same thing.

Wake me up when someone can see beyond the spectrum that the rest of us can see because then I’ll be interested.

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I am an art teacher, and we are a family that likes playing with words, and we talk about color a lot! My older daughter was told by her eye doctor that she had unusually acute color perception, and I’ve often wondered if it is a genetic thing with higher cone density, or if it is a learned thing just because I pushed her to talk about color, think about color, and we often debate fine shades of color.

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well, i say she’s A WITCH.

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