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Every One Is Different

I’ve recently become a bit of a TED Talk addict … as a person who spends great swathes of time on his own at the desk a mini break or change is often useful.  I don’t have the office workers around me to talk about the football so I need something.

TED is brilliant world class talkers, world class ideas.  It’s a thousand topics from the best speakers in the world.  The best thing is that each talk is generally 15 mins or so long.

Just the right time for a coffee break and a change of pace.

As you might imagine my first port of call for these talks is the photography and art talks … and I stumbled across this.

Angelica Dass is a Brazilian artist who grew up with many different people, and many different influences.   She grew up in a family where color wasn’t a factor, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and adopted brothers and sisters were of all different races and colors. Inevitably though, when outside of her family environment, the color of her skin became a factor, this, to Angelica was surprising as that the time and intriguing as she grew older. Humanae, is a project which looks at our perceptions of color.

She describes skin colours as chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, she saves the phrase sunburnt lobster for her husband.  One day she started to wonder what colour her children might be, not that she cared, but it lead to the HUMANAE project.

In it she takes a portrait of a person, and a few pixels away from the tip of the nose, I imagine to eliminate the colour from light glare she samples the colour.  From that she changes the background of the image and then sets it to the nearest Pantone colour. Think of Pantone is an industry standard colour series in much the same way you might have a colour card from Dulux.

The photography is incredibly simple, a single light, a reflector and a backdrop. When it's this simple it's easily portable and repeatable so the pictures can be taken anywhere.

It’s an interesting project that is still a work in progress but it does highlight that we are all different in many different ways.

She gives a great TED talk here and goes on to explain the difficulties she had growing up in a family of mixed origins, at one point being mistaken as a nanny to the older children, a house maid and so on.  She’s clearly very passionate and very emotional towards the end.

Ultimately, Dass says that the project is to

"highlight out true colours rather than the untrue red and yellow, black and white"

The artistic statement describes the intention more thoroughly :

Humanae is a chromatic inventory, a project that reflects on the colors beyond the borders of our codes by referencing the PANTONE® color scheme. (PANTONE® Guides are one of the main classification systems of colors, which are represented by an alphanumeric code, allowing to accurately recreate any of them in any media. It is a technical industrial standard often called Real Color) The project development is based on a series of portraits whose background is dyed with the exact Pantone® tone extracted from a sample of 11x11 pixels of the portrayed’s face. The project’s objective is to record and catalog all possible human skin tones.

Take 15 mins to watch the talk and then visit the web site linked above … it’s quite thought provoking.

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