Friday, May 9, 2014

Red, Rouge, Rojo

    The wavelengths of light that we perceive as red are the first ones we are capable of seeing, in the sense that they are the longest wavelengths of light our eyes can register.  I suppose its no surprise then that we relate red to all things primal and physical.  We associate red with food, sex, war and violence.  And interestingly, red, like its counterpart on the spectrum, violet, are both colors associated with power, and majesty.

    Red has been shown to affect our nervous systems and our internal processes.  Our heart rate ticks up a bit in the presence of red, our salivary glands increase production and our metabolism also climbs.  So we have a real time response to red.  These factors are mitigated or exacerbated by the shades and tones of red that exist.  Reds tending towards the brown or gray have less effect on us than reds that tend towards the orange.  And the closer one gets to orange the more pronounced these effects get, as orange is a color which creates discordant responses in the body and brain.
    In our current retail culture red takes a back seat to gray, black and blue, but only because those colors are just now considered neutrals.  Walk into any clothing store and you're likely to see a good deal of it.  Its the single most often used accent color. for clothing; and accessories of all sorts are frequently red.

    Why?  Well, our eye is instantly drawn to red, its very nearly a programmed response so dependable is it.  Check it out yourself sometime.  Scanning a crowd of people casually, your eye will settle on and note the red in the mix first.

   Red is of course also the color of our iron infused blood, so our connection to it is literally internalized.  We carry this subtle connection around in our psyches continually, and it informs how we respond when we see it, because we have so long thought of our own blood when we view red.
    When we observe red on others we are likely to think them potentially volatile, vivacious, and vividly expressive. Red implies action and speed.  And we have even taken red into our spoken language by "seeing red" saying our "face is red" or being "red with lust".

    Perhaps the most important way we associate with red is sexually.  As we connect red to ripeness and fecundity, it associates in our mind with procreation, and by extension all of the sex we humans get up to.  So attiring ourselves in red is a subliminal signal to others of a certain, shall we say, willingness on our parts.

    One of the interesting twists on the application of red in these latter days are the Red Hat Ladies.  By clapping emphatically red hats on their heads they are proudly stating that they ain't done yet by any means.  They have co-opted the energy and spirit of red to invigorate their stance that as mature women they still have a good deal to contribute.  I applaud them all for it.

    So, when red crosses our path, we are taken back to someplace essential and full of zest, its a place of emotional extremities and lush expressions.  Sounds like a fun place to hang out from time to time, no?
    Take yourself somewhere red, soon.


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