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Steiner's mistake about colored shadows???

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  • Robert Mason
    To All: In Lecture 7 of the *Light Course RS discusses Goethe s treatment of colored shadows and says that Goethe was wrong in saying that the colored
    Message 1 of 62 , Nov 15, 2007
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      To All:

      In Lecture 7 of the *Light Course" RS discusses
      Goethe's treatment of "colored shadows" and
      says that Goethe was wrong in saying that the
      colored shawdows are subjective; RS says they
      are objective, really "there". In the eLib
      version there is this note:

      "† After some careful experiments on a later occasion. Dr.
      Steiner admitted that there is an error here. (See the
      Translator's Note on this passage) He also recommended chemical
      and photographic researches to shew the real nature of coloured
      shadows."

      I didn't find this translator's note.

      In the Steinerbooks version there is this note:

      "1. 'If you take a small tube and look through it . . . then you
      will also see it as green':
      This experiment was repeatedly attempted, always with negative
      results, by V. C. Bennie, lecturer in physics at that time at
      Kings College
      of the University of London, after he had read the transcription
      of the course by Rudolf Steiner in 1921. Because of this, there
      were
      two evenings of experiments in Dornach at the end of September
      1922. Rudolf Steiner had wished to be present. The other
      collaborators
      were Dr. Ernst Blümel, mathematician, Bennie, and Dr. Oskar
      Schmiedel, pharmacist and director of courses on Goethe’s theory
      of
      color. On the first evening, Dr. W. J. Stein also participated.
      The two
      evenings did not lead to a confirmation of the experiment with
      the
      tube. Incidentally the result was reported differently by the
      participants.
      What is important here, however, does not seem to have been
      discussed at all on the two evenings, namely Rudolf Steiner’s
      intention,
      as reported by Dr. Blümel, to prove the objectivity of the color
      in the shadow by photographic or chemical means in the Stuttgart
      research institute. However, nothing is known of such
      experiments—
      and certainly not with positive results—of the research
      institute at
      that time. Later, when the first edition of the course was to
      appear in
      the Complete Works, there were photographic experiments
      available
      with negative results: despite the advances in color photography
      since
      the time of Rudolf Steiner, the color in the photographs of the
      colored
      shadows was not stable. The whole picture did indeed show the
      shadow in the required color, but when cut out, it appeared
      gray.
      Today that is different. Stable colors result even without
      special procedures.
      The starting point of new experiments was a photograph
      that the professional photographer and elaborator of Goethe’s
      color
      theory Hans-Georg Hetzel was able to make of an experiment with
      colored shadow in the Goethe-Color-Studio in Dornach. Besides
      the
      usual trinity of demanding color, colored shadow, and brightened
      color of the surrounding field, the photograph also showed a
      small
      technical gray scale. Despite the intense color of the shadow
      the latter
      appeared gray, on the same photograph!
      Today there are series of photographs available of different
      kinds
      of colored shadows, which can be reproduced by Hans-Georg
      Hetzel,
      each series being photographed on the same film and supplemented
      for control purposes by interposed photographs of gray shadow.
      These are slide films. Each film is developed professionally by
      machine as one among many customer orders. Thus the different
      colors of a series are produced in one and the same developing
      process.
      Even the photographs were taken in a uniform way: in every
      case the lens was fitted with a transparency of the same
      color—the
      color that the color temperature meter indicated for
      photographing
      gray so that the gray really turns out gray. If this condition
      is not fulfilled,
      then a decision still must made: either all the colored shadows
      appear as gray, so the colors of the shadows could be
      subjective, or
      the shadows appear different from the gray, so a special effect
      is
      taking place in that space.
      That the latter is the case is shown by the
      special color process of the Polaroid camera, which gives the
      shadow
      a strongly green cast, unlike the gray. There cannot be any
      question
      of the colored shadows coming out like the gray ones. If it were
      only
      a matter of subjective and objective, it could be left at that.
      However,
      if we want to come as close as possible to the true colors, it
      is necessary,
      of course, for gray to turn out gray. If we describe the best of
      the
      resulting series,
      the gray is a beautiful mouse gray. The blue shadow
      appears gray with at most a hint of blue. The other shadows are
      more
      decidedly colored, all of them with a brownish cast, in
      comparison
      with which the color called for is revealed only as a nuance.
      Even
      green turns out decidedly different from gray, but in a shade
      that is
      difficult to evaluate and that is usually described as brownish.
      If
      enlarged in an automatic process and copied onto paper, the
      series
      shows blue and green the same, and in the rest the brown shade
      dominates
      to the extent that the other nuances disappear. It has already
      been indicated that the film type plays an important role. It is
      interesting
      to note, however, that the quality of lighting is also
      significant.
      Diffuse light (e.g., stage lights) provide better colors than
      harshly
      focused light. Individual photographs of colored shadows have
      been
      gotten with very beautiful, stable color. Their beauty is
      achieved,
      however, by means of special treatment of the individual
      photograph,
      so that they do not have the same value as evidence. Any
      photograph,
      however, that results from procedures that are also routinely
      employed for photographing ordinary colors can be regarded as
      evidence,
      since it shows that the photographic process that was developed
      for ordinary colors also reacts to colored shadows. Nothing
      more than this is being asserted here. For the whole question of
      colored
      shadows, cf. G. Ott and H. O. Proskauer, “Das Rätsel des
      farbigen
      Schattens” (Basel: 1979). A series of the photographs
      mentioned above is located in the archives of the
      Rudolf-Steiner-
      Nachlassverwaltung (Rudolf Steiner Estate Administration),
      Dornach.
      More details about the experiments are set out in Beiträgen zur
      Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe, issue number 97, Michaelmas 1987."

      -- So apparently, since "the result was reported
      differently by the participants", maybe RS did
      not really admit to having made a mistake and/or
      did not make that "recommendation"?

      Were there really any "positive results" in later
      experiments? I find the rest of this Steinerbooks
      note to be almost unintelligible. Aside from the
      obscurity of phrases such as *technical gray scale*
      etc., there is the apparent absurdity of trying
      to prove or disprove the "objectivity" of
      the colors by photography. It would seem to me
      that the reliability of color photography must
      depend upon its conformity to the colors seen
      by the healthy eye, not the other way around.

      It would seem that in the 80+ years since this
      lecture this relatively simple, straightforward
      question could have been answered by now. Does
      anyone know of a clear treatment of this
      question in English? Is the book and/or the
      article mentioned in the Steinerbooks note
      available in English?

      Any help on this?

      Robert Mason




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    • carynlouise24
      Steve you are such a Leo! NCAR = Atmospheric Research Centre – thought it meant Centre Astronomy Research – er where are we going again?! I think it would
      Message 62 of 62 , Mar 11, 2008
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        Steve you are such a Leo!

        NCAR = Atmospheric Research Centre – thought it meant Centre Astronomy
        Research – er where are we going again?!

        I think it would be good to look at the earth's compass points again.
        We know the pole's shifted after the Atlantis catastrophe, everything
        went topsy turvy and Venus became Mercury and Mercury become Venus –
        does this mean the compass points also became topsy turvy? Also seeing
        that the world is Tetrahedron shaped.
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