AI: Avert Your Eyes!

The picture below comes courtesy of Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. It features the Sun as seen in 3 different wavelengths. When I was younger, I would often wish that I could swap my color vision for black and white at any time of my choosing. But when I look at pictures like the one below, I think, ‘black and white is boring’. What about seeing the world in ultraviolet or x-ray or radio? What kind of crazy paintings could I make if I saw the world in a way that no one else could?! (True, I could just take lots of acid, but who wants to deal with all the angry Smurfs crawling all over you when you are trying to paint? Not me.)


Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball ®

If you had the ability to see in different wavelengths, which would you choose and why? Would you flip your vision to ultraviolet and look at invisible patterns on flowers? Would swap for infrared and stare at the Sun? How about those airport scanners? Would you, uh… try that out?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In his spare time he makes videos of Spirograph drawings and complains about doing laundry. Website: Twitter: @brianggeorge Insta: @brianggeorge If you're into what I'm doing, feel free to throw down a bit in my tipjar here: @brianggeorge

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  1. Infrared would be the most useful for sure because then I would be like the Predator! (Insert alien sound)

    Not to mention knowing if something is hot without touching it. Being able to see things people are hiding.

    Ultraviolet seems like a bit of a gimmick. X-ray….. Well unless peoples bodies are giving off x-rays or they are in an x-ray machine you aren’t going to get much out of it. More likely you will just be blinded by the next solar flare, same goes for gamma.

    My guess is that radio waves would not provide enough resolution to be useful due to their large wave length.

  2. @dpeabody: Good points, although, being blinded by a gamma ray burst would be a pretty novel way to lose one’s sense of sight. Great conversation starter.

    @Scopes Monkey Matt: Now I just feel sad. [tiny violins] get me every time.

  3. I’d just want to stretch my spectrum a little. Maybe see a bit of infrared for the already mentioned predator vision.

    I wouldn’t want to drift too far off as the world is built around the color and opacity of materials. Drift too far from the visible spectrum and I wouldn’t be able to read signs or see walls or see through windows etc. It would be very troublesome.

  4. Hm. I mostly do ink pointalist illustration, so black-and-white vision is all I usually think I need (in fact, I often think about how much easier it would be if I only saw in black and white. Converting color to tiny black dots can be such a chore!), but now that you mention it, ultraviolet vision would be awesome! I love to draw the delicate lines and patterns on flower petals now. They would be so much more fun in Bee-Vision! Now, excuse me, I am totally not going to scour Google images for ultraviolet flower images to draw…

  5. Also @Scopes Monkey Matt, my fiancé is an artist and graphic designer and photographer, and he is also colorblind. Since he mostly works digitally (Thanks RBG values!), it isn’t really a handicap. Although there is the occasional instance of me saying “Wow! That actually looks amazing with that pink filter!” and him responding, “Pink?! Shit!”

  6. If you think that not being able to see X-ray or gamma is bad…If you’re male your also boned on color.

    The genes for seeing reds and purples (really just red but can you make purple convincingly without a nice red?!) is on the X chromosome. This means that women see shades of red and purple that we (that is men) can’t even dream about.

    Screw X-Ray specs….I want X-chromosome^2 specs.

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