Letter from The Editor

Becoming Blue: attuning to the sensoria of a color

Photo by Margaret LeJeune
Photo by François Goudier
Photo by Emma Lyons
Photo by Dr. Patrick Hickey

Blue is a “more-than” color. It moves us beyond the emotional. It affects us past the conceptual and radiates around the physical. Blue is more vast than the sum of its parts, its effects, or its origins. It surpasses wavelength, language, the tidiness of category. Perhaps, the best way to understand a “more-than” color is to become it.

Over time, as our eyes evolved to take in light, we began to see blue. Floral and mineral tones. Oceanic and atmospheric reflections of scattered light. Plants safe to eat and others to avoid. We can imagine that as soon as perception expanded to include blue, humans began to collect and craft it, making pigments and dyes from earth and leaves. 

Though we are able to marvel at its hues and feel its visual vibrations, blue is unbound to our human perception. To understand this color’s depths, we must stretch past the cones and rods in our eyes. Beyond the bounds of wavelength and mathematical definition. We must travel to the ocean’s depths, out past the patterns of waves and beneath the dynamics of currents, inward towards our core.

The artists and scientists gathered here go beyond seeing. They expand our spectrum, swell our chromatic conceptions. They feel blue. Consume blue. Hear blue. In their own ways, these artists and scientists are in the process of becoming blue.

We invite you into this Blue Issue for a meal where we will ingest ideas and break blue bread, hear familiar stories and witness emergent hues. We will go mushrooming in a Latvian forest, foraging in the tiny crevices of blue-stained logs. We will ingest jenipapo in Brazil and synthesize YInMn in a chemistry laboratory, gaze into a bioluminescent tide and harvest potential blue in the green leaves of indigo.

Through their wonder and lifework, these artists and scientists reconnect us with color. The circular gradation of their ideas varies in shade, like a cyanometer, offering perspectives that may differ against the tones of our own. They give us the gift of contrast – of difference. While swimming in their words, we may wander fields where unfamiliar ideas flower. Where one blue cross-pollinates another, encouraging new hues to sprout and evolve. Where new ideas will germinate, be gathered and digested. Where blue is sustenance. 

We invite you to become blue with us – from the inside out. Dip your hands in an indigo vat and metabolize blue foods, wrap yourself in a quilted Pacific Ocean and listen to the undulating sound waves of The Blues. Read its histories of relation. Attune to its orbits of transmission. Its frequencies. Its sensoria. Together, it’s possible we could redefine what blue can be.

The artists, scientists, chef, and storytellers included in this issue remind us that blue is not a frivolous exploration or a simple luxury. Blue is a connecting force. A primary ingredient of vitality.

—Madelaine Corbin
Editor, Issue 3: BLUE

Photo by Daniel Cochran featuring objects by Naama Levit