Color – one of the most prominent details of the living world – is taken for granted every day. Without color, life would be dull, literally. It has always been fun to discuss color, talking about the crisp green of the tree leaves, or noticing the perfection of a solid white dove. Without the depth and warmth of these things, they would fall flat. For the most part, we all see a normal range of color, and color is what keeps us interested in the world, at least for the most part.
There are those who are colorblind, mixing the hues of orange with yellow, on a regular basis. If there are those who cannot see color appropriately, could there be those who see more color than the average person? Yes, there certainly can be.
There are, as a matter of fact, those who can see a wider spectrum of colors than the rest of us. These individuals are called tetrachromats. Every person with “normal” vision has millions of cone-shaped cells that allow for the perception of color. One million distinctive colors are controlled by only three cones. Some animals and humans have a fourth cone which allows UV color perception.
You might think that the process of the brain is different, but you are wrong. The basic process of acknowledging color is the same for normal color perception and tetrachromats. While this variant is present in a fairly large number of animals, it is very rare for human beings. One notable human with tetrachromacy, is the Australian artist, Concetta Antico.
Concetta Antico was gifted with tetrachromacy and uses the difference to augment her painting. Since she is an impressionist, the widened color range has afforded her the ability to add color that other artists cannot see. Considering her art style choice is nowhere near realism, she can use compositions that mimic her vision. Even if the work is monochromatic, Antico can still see the most minute color shifts and hues within the work. It is thought that she was born with this gift, but there is also speculation that her artistic past time has widened her range of colors even more.
As stated before, there, there are some people for whom color is limited. Unfortunately, since Antico is gifted with a much wider range of color in her vision, her daughter is colorblind. The reason for this strange phenomenon is that her daughter actually received two distinct genes for limited color, considering there are two X chromosomes in females. This is why, generally, men are the recipients of color blindness. They have one X chromosome and no chance at receiving a second dose of color information.
We want to know more!
Scientists want to know much more about Antico’s interesting condition. Unfortunately, researchers have very little information on this genetic anomaly and work closely with the artist to learn ways to naturally expand the spectrum of colors. Whether or not this is possible, is left to be seen. To enjoy some of Antico’s work, check her website and enjoy the full expanded version of the artist’s mind.