Colours as an abstract classification system

All elements in KHNUM are coded with a colour (8-level) or colour combination (64-level). So we speak of a ‘yellow’ shape, or a ‘blue’ personality etc. This is not litteraly about a yellow coloured shape or a person painted blue. Instead the colour refers to the semantic meaning connected to colours and via the code metaphorically transposed on the shape, person etc.

KHNUM database uses the genetic semantic colour space as a scientifically based design method to connect psychology, emotion and meaning in a natural way to elements of visual language. By means of elementary carriers of meaning that can be found in specific properties of colour, a synaesthetic bridge can be laid to the other forms of expression such as colour palette, shape, composition, texture, body language, sound and taste.

Colours are important for semantics because of their abstracting quality. According to Dummett (1973), colours are on the borderline between abstract and concrete language objects. He makes a clear distinction between colours on the one hand and shapes on the other. A shape has to be taken as the shape of something, but a colour need not necessarily be understood as the colour of anything. According to his definition, colours are thus abstract objects who have a strong reference in the sense of semantic role ‘internal to language’. (Duke, 2012)

The codic meaning of elements of expression can be determined very accurately and can be nuanced indefinitely. One can better replace the combinations of zeros and ones from the ‘machine language’ with a colour code, which offers more possibilities for creative design applications. The meaning (the spirit) they generate in our ‘living computers’ is part of an inner language, a world that we sense better than that we can put into words.