The Island of the Colourblind

 I’ve always wondered about people who are colourblind – how they see the world, how they perceive colours that are standard to us, how a rainbow or the sky or even a traffic light looks. As much as I have tried, I can’t imagine not being able to see the full spectrum of colours. It’s something that has always been a significant part of my life from when I was a child, to my art classes in high school and in my university projects and experiences.

Do you have any friends who are colourblind? Would you even know if they are? Have you ever tried to answer the question of how to describe a sunset to a person who is blind since birth? How would you explain what red, yellow, green, blue look like to someone who has never seen them?

I read this article by Daniel Stone on National Geographic about this island in the Pacific that has a genetic history (thanks to a catastrophic typhoon and a surviving ruler with a dominant complete achromatopsia gene) that has shaped the perception of colour and how the people understand it for an entire population. It’s really quite fascinating.


Sanne de Wilde, the photographer, has used infrared filters and effects to try and recreate how the island is perceived by its locals. There are some photos that she printed in black and white and asked locals to colour them in to show how they see the objects pictured. We talk a lot about how people see things differently, see the world differently, experience things differently. This place lends a whole new meaning to this concept, one that is further proof as to how fascinating the human brain is.

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Read the article for the whole story and check out all of the photos they are spectacular. Below is a video of the book Sanne De Wilde created on the Island of the Colourblind..check it out.

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