Steiner's mistake about colored shadows???
- 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
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
of the University of London, after he had read the transcription
of the course by Rudolf Steiner in 1921. Because of this, there
two evenings of experiments in Dornach at the end of September
1922. Rudolf Steiner had wished to be present. The other
were Dr. Ernst Blümel, mathematician, Bennie, and Dr. Oskar
Schmiedel, pharmacist and director of courses on Goethes theory
color. On the first evening, Dr. W. J. Stein also participated.
evenings did not lead to a confirmation of the experiment with
tube. Incidentally the result was reported differently by the
What is important here, however, does not seem to have been
discussed at all on the two evenings, namely Rudolf Steiners
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
and certainly not with positive resultsof the research
that time. Later, when the first edition of the course was to
the Complete Works, there were photographic experiments
with negative results: despite the advances in color photography
the time of Rudolf Steiner, the color in the photographs of the
shadows was not stable. The whole picture did indeed show the
shadow in the required color, but when cut out, it appeared
Today that is different. Stable colors result even without
The starting point of new experiments was a photograph
that the professional photographer and elaborator of Goethes
theory Hans-Georg Hetzel was able to make of an experiment with
colored shadow in the Goethe-Color-Studio in Dornach. Besides
usual trinity of demanding color, colored shadow, and brightened
color of the surrounding field, the photograph also showed a
technical gray scale. Despite the intense color of the shadow
appeared gray, on the same photograph!
Today there are series of photographs available of different
of colored shadows, which can be reproduced by Hans-Georg
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
Even the photographs were taken in a uniform way: in every
case the lens was fitted with a transparency of the same
color that the color temperature meter indicated for
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
the shadows appear different from the gray, so a special effect
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
a strongly green cast, unlike the gray. There cannot be any
of the colored shadows coming out like the gray ones. If it were
a matter of subjective and objective, it could be left at that.
if we want to come as close as possible to the true colors, it
of course, for gray to turn out gray. If we describe the best of
the gray is a beautiful mouse gray. The blue shadow
appears gray with at most a hint of blue. The other shadows are
decidedly colored, all of them with a brownish cast, in
with which the color called for is revealed only as a nuance.
green turns out decidedly different from gray, but in a shade
difficult to evaluate and that is usually described as brownish.
enlarged in an automatic process and copied onto paper, the
shows blue and green the same, and in the rest the brown shade
to the extent that the other nuances disappear. It has already
been indicated that the film type plays an important role. It is
to note, however, that the quality of lighting is also
Diffuse light (e.g., stage lights) provide better colors than
focused light. Individual photographs of colored shadows have
gotten with very beautiful, stable color. Their beauty is
however, by means of special treatment of the individual
so that they do not have the same value as evidence. Any
however, that results from procedures that are also routinely
employed for photographing ordinary colors can be regarded as
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
shadows, cf. G. Ott and H. O. Proskauer, Das Rätsel des
Schattens (Basel: 1979). A series of the photographs
mentioned above is located in the archives of the
Nachlassverwaltung (Rudolf Steiner Estate Administration),
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?
Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your home page.
- 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.