At the exhibition by the installation artist Tatsuo Miyajima at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney I walked into a large-scale room with three walls covered with small blue counters that switched on and off randomly. I felt an immediate sense of calm and stillness in the room even though the installation is called Mega Death and was devised to represent the numerous deaths by war and terrorism in the 20thC. What was that about?
Image attribute: MCA Mega Death
In a recorded interview, Tatsuo talked about the colour blue. Blue has different meanings across all cultures but a prevailing theme is that it is the colour of the sky, boundless, and in this installation, there is a sense of infinity.
We say sky blue, but the sky is difficult to talk about in terms of colour. We cannot hold colour for long without form. Where and what is the sky? Transcript of an Interview
Blue is a colour that invokes so many different emotions. It is used in association with depression; feeling blue. Beyond blue is an organisation supporting people with depression. Blues music is usually about loss and loneliness and trying to find your way, or your lost dog. Of course this is culturally specific but there seems to be some cultural consensus about it being a favourite colour….blue jeans!!
I read that in ancient language there was no word for blue (No one could see the colour blue until modern times) Across different ancient cultures words for colours had appeared in a similar order across all languages however the word blue didn’t appear until the Egyptians found a method of making blue dye. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t see it It just takes us into a whole other rabbit-hole adventure of perception.