Approaching ecological ambiguity through a non-divisionary understanding of colour in art

  • Yulia Kovanova Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Keywords: Ambiguity, Art, Colour, Ecology, Entanglements


In the face of the current ecological uncertainty, we are often confronted with discomforting ambiguity: the boundaries across human and nonhuman worlds continue to blur. In response, the discourse of environmental humanities looks at reframing existing approaches of being in the world. It proposes a focus on ‘entanglements’, which prefigures turning away from individualistic and discordant thinking towards a mode of operating that highlights connection and relationship. Much like every aspect of our interconnected world ecology, colour too is subject to the current environmental crisis. With unprecedented rates of extinction, we are losing colours and unique colour combinations in our environment. Though colour is an ambiguous, unstable and constantly shifting phenomenon, colour studies have traditionally favoured a divisional approach, dividing the spectrum into categories and individualised colours. In this drive towards divided categories, we often forget that we are dealing with one spectrum, and that strict division is artificial. A non-divisional approach to understanding colour falls closer to the natural aesthetic experience of the visual field and corresponds with the interconnected ecological approach. The author aims to link this non-divisional approach in colour to ‘entangled’ environmental thinking and examine this through art practice as an effective tool for comprehending invisible ecological interconnectedness in the time of the ‘Anthropocene’. The article concludes that colour offers a powerful tool for exploring ecological entanglements, offering entry into positive ambiguity.

Author Biography

Yulia Kovanova, Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.

Yulia Kovanova is a Siberian-born, Scotland-based artist and researcher. Her practice currently focuses on the investigation of ecology of colour and its dynamics, the ideas of spatio-temporal borders and perceptual boundaries. She often takes an interdisciplinary approach, working across a range of media, including moving image and sculptural installations, and through collaborative practice.


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How to Cite
Kovanova, Y. (2020) “Approaching ecological ambiguity through a non-divisionary understanding of colour in art”, Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 12(01), pp. 82-88. doi: 10.23738/CCSJ.120110.