By Capucine Fachot
Color. Colour. Couleur.
Early December, Lomography emailed me with a few of my favorite words: monochrome, purple, film. I was to test one of the two films they had received from Vienna.
I chose to hike, and bring the light of the island onto my violet emulsion. Near Istanbul, the escape and I refused to make purple human.
The film didn’t exactly respect my conception of purple, and my usual color palette. And that’s the beauty of film photography with Lomography, you have next to no control. You have to accept it, let it be free, let yourself be freer, and enjoy the surprise.
The colored film and its purple didn’t give what I expected from it, and it made things better, different.
Let's think PURPLE:
Suffragettes, Spiritual Leaders (witches’ and priests’ scarves alike—adding to the mystery of this tint: we don’t know if it’s good or evil), Emperors, Aristocracy: hierarchy and fantasy.
Human, humanity, hierarchy, order, artificial order, people of stature. I can see the fluff and the rarity this color conveys. The sense of originality, quirkiness (I had a strange German teacher who dressed in purple from head to toe, every single day, for years).
Purple has been humanized.
But depending on the context and the timeline, it remains a quirky composition of the light spectrum. The color has an innate artificial aspect – which makes encountering it in nature so surreal. In nature, we see purple in rare places: lavender, eggplant, grapes, amethysts.
In the flowering season of lavender in Provence, the fields extend to the horizon. Shades of purple blanketing the grounds and dispersing fragrant smells to the viewer. Magical.
Moreover, everyone has a different conception of what is purple. My purple is not your purple. But we have the same red and the same conception of primary blue.
The chromaticity of this color depends on one's subjectivity and retina memory and associations—there's so much beauty at play in this freedom.
The relation between the color and the human eye is limited there. Depending on our subjectivity, red and blue converge in different ratios. Some see it with more pink, some with more brown. It is one limit to Homo sapiens’ supremacy and its optical perceptions.
Purple does not belong to the light spectrum. Physicists have named it a non-spectral color. Purple is artificial, not a part of the rainbow colors.
The very vibrant version of purple in my mind is not pastel (not covered by a flimsy veil of transparent white); there is nothing munching on its reflections and clarity. It’s a total 2603.
Bringing purple under our (artistic) control appears to have been difficult. Earliest records show fifteenth-century B.C.’s Phoenicians extracting it from a spiny sea snail. Present-day Lebanon started purple dyeing.
Phoenicia means the “land of purple.” The myth goes back to Hercules’ shepherd dog biting a murex mollusk on the beach, making its mouth a purple shade. I can totally visualize the many sculptures of Hercules made in color and alive, running on the beach to check on his dog and the foamy purple around its mouth.
There’s also THIS to consider, scientists say that early life on Earth made everything purple.
And so, colors have labels, like everything in our abstract world.
Purple is neither good nor evil. (Though it has spectral/ghost associations, unearthly unnatural beings—or I just have too many Pokemon connotations).
Purple is spirituality attained, higher states of consciousness. I want to link it to egoism. Not to be mistaken with selfishness.
What is an enlightened being spiritually speaking? Someone who has mastered through and through the art of SELF-LOVE.
Taking care of oneself, filling in your needs first – and not expecting others to do the task for you – is an extreme basic lesson we have to get to. After daily reassessing our needs, being egoists, in order to be better humans (meddle in solitary time, thinking, activities that make you feel ok), then we can start giving and receiving, opening ourselves to the world, and spreading light.
Spirituality takes us through the first steps. We have to learn self-love. And that’s why I started this collection of words up there at the beginning.
Purple is one of my “aspirations.” I’m an orange verging on purple. I am following a path of spirituality, without choosing one god or the other. But solely believing in the Universe and my reason to be here.
While this color is a story of human control, eye perception, and rare accessibility, the Lomography film was teaching me to let it all go and believe in irrationality. Physics would take care of applying light wherever it touched nature, and flows of purple would splash wherever it pleased.
This series of photos is an exercise in presence. I do this every two weekends – a retreat with(in) myself of hiking to the top of this island. There, I talk between trees, I open my hands to the sun, and I cross no other human on my path. It’s a vital grounding moment in the chaotic city I call home: Istanbul.
Capucine Fachot is a reportage photographer and writer from France. She studied photography and journalism in London. She now works freelance in Istanbul for magazines and agencies (Monocle, Female Narratives, etc.) and consults brands on their visual identity. Capucine recently developed a weekly newsletter Copious Copy: a weekly cosmos of words about metaphysics and enlightenment, through presence, wonder, science, and spirituality. Follow Capucine on Instagram.