What's your color?

Halifax, Nova Scotia

"I thought we were in the pink when they gave the green light to the movie adaptation of the purple prose, but no one would front the green because they were afraid of going in the red. I thought they were true blue, but now that they've shown their real colors I think they're yellow - and I'm blue."

We don't give it much thought, but many colors signify more than just a specific wavelength of visible light. From idioms like those above, to colors' symbolic impact in specific cultures (red is good luck in China, yellow symbolizes truth to Hindus and Christians), to their physiological impact on us (blue can lower blood pressure while pink prison cells reduce aggressive behavior), there is, and I apologize for this in advance, much more to color than meets the eye. Color in Motion explores the wide-ranging subtexts of six common colors, and in the process, provides a brief, lightweight diversion for Web-weary surfers - and just perhaps, engenders a slightly better appreciation of good old orange.

Created by Claudia Cortes for a 2003 masters thesis (as an "Interactive Experience of Color Communication and Color Symbolism"), Color in Motion is a Flash-based presentation that uses a 'magic of motion pictures' theme and animated simulations of paper cutout actors to present its material. Opening with a celluloid countdown (complete with simulated scratches in the emulsion and an appropriately Hollywoodish musical background), Color presents the visitor with three backstage doors, behind which are the site's main sections - The Stars, The Movies and The Lab.

The Stars (in order of appearance; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple) is essentially an introduction to the site's actors, delivered in a manner not unlike an online casting call. Each actor sits on a stool (occasionally shifting position - nervous, no doubt) holding (and occasionally dropping) folders which will serve as a resume and answers to, 'tell us something about yourself.'

Stars can be selected by rollover or through a series of buttons at the bottom of the screen, and clicking on a chosen figure or its folder opens a dossier containing some fairly well-known facts (Purple represents wealth) as well as some more obscure points (apparently, Green's shape is the hexagon). In between these extremes of common knowledge are such details as each actor's "Best Friend" (complementary color), best and worst traits (Red is used to symbolize both love and war), and a link to that color's movie, which is also available in the second section of the site.

The Movies presents some of the defining characteristics of each color in brief animated sequences accompanied by some well- chosen and specifically matched music (from a 60's sounding jazz piece and something appropriate to a silent film comedy, to Cape Breton fiddle and Peruvian folk music). Each movie opens with the various actors trying to solve the same problem in their distinct, color-appropriate manner, and carries on to illustrate both concrete and metaphorical roles played by each star in day-to-day life. Unless instructed otherwise, all six movies will play in succession, but controls at the bottom of the screen also allow playback options as well as direct jumps to specific actors.

The Lab offers surfers a bit of creative control through a trio of interactive exhibits. The first, "Direct A Scene," offers a drag-and-drop interface and an invitation to create a still image - representing a star's attributes and depicting a word supplied by the site. ('Drag and drop' once they're in the shot - props and actors must first be clicked in order to appear in the frame.) Actors and props can be rotated, enlarged or shrunk, and the actors' limbs can be positioned independently. If you're particularly pleased with your work, Direct A Scene also has a Print option.

"Star Manager" tests your talents as an agent (and your retention as a site visitor) by presenting each actor with a list of potential 'projects' - from which you must select those best suited to your client's particular strengths. Finally, the "Kaleidoscope" is a simple exercise visual entertainment, with user selectable backgrounds and draggable ink-filled eyedroppers. As with Direct A Scene, proud creators have the option of preserving their artwork in print. (Unfortunately each eyedropper application starts the kaleidoscope from scratch, so there's no ability to create your own multiple color combinations.)

While not one of the site's featured performers, the predominant color at Color in Motion is white (I know, I know - it's a combination of all colors), which gives the site a clean, orderly look. And while animated elements occur throughout the site, their basic graphic nature means that you won't be paying much of a penalty in download time for the experience. Finally, and demonstrating a virtue that is less common than one might expect, every feature available onsite performed as expected. So while this may be a simple diversion, it's a diversion without distractions - and you've got to appreciate a job done right.

Color in Motion can be found at http://www.mariaclaudiacortes.com/

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