Thinking Colour Symposium

Thinking Colour invited academics, curators, and artists to consider the philosophical relations between colour and thinking. Engaging with questions of colour in ways that exceed the discussion of specific cases and linguistic manifestations, we invited our participants to approach colour through visual analysis, visual theory, critical thought, and comparative or transhistorical reflection. This symposium started from inquiries already opened by thinkers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gilles Deleuze, and Julia Kristeva, and more recently by Michael Taussig and Natasha Eaton. It asked questions such as: how do images think in/through colour? What is colour’s affective power? How does colour relate to specific materialities? How can colour have agency? Is colour a device for – or even a form of – thinking? We also invited responses both to ontological questions around being in colour, being without colour, resisting colour, and inhabiting colour, and to epistemological questions around colour and knowledge. How can colour function in relation to thinking in artistic practice/research?

Understanding interdisciplinarity as a polyphony of voices and methodologies coming together in and around a single context, the Thinking Colour symposium invited its participants to contemplate colour as a topic for theoretical reflection, in the light of their own discipline. It offered a space for presentation but also for debate, and exchange, with an emphasis on comparison as a methodology for stimulating new thought.

The day consisted of several talks delivered by invited international academics who are leading in this field. We were honoured to host Eric Alliez (Kingston University), David Batchelor (Royal College of Art), Laure Blanc-Benon (University Paris-Sorbonne), Natasha Eaton (University College London), Jacqueline Lichtenstein (University Paris-Sorbonne), Liz Watkins (University of Leeds), and Paul Smith (University of Warwick).

Responding to, and comparing, ideas raised by these distinguished speakers, was a panel composed of artists, graduate research students, early career fellows, and established academics. There was also a round-table of shorter (10 minute) paper presentations and discussion for which we invited paper proposals.


There was a registration fee for this event: Waged £23; Unwaged £8.