Default Safari is a mobile App that detects the color white via a smartphone’s camera and replaces it with the color black. It can be used to de-white one’s vision.
How is the color white embedded in the design of architectures, infrastructures and objects?
How biased is technology when it comes to color?
When using Default Safari inside our apartment 90% of the app image becomes black. Our attentiveness floated towards the objects that were still visible. Dark objects seemed less dark than without the app, probably because white as a contrast color disappeared. We saw the play of light and the many different shades of darker colors. It felt unsettling to us and other people who tested the app to see how much the color white is embedded in our surroundings.
Most people with light skin color we looked at were still visible – they were just not as white as their surroundings. How much of their surface was interpreted as white by Default Safari depended on the shade of their skin color as much as the light settings.
Outside of houses the color white was less present. In parks, antique statues are white. Only a few animals living at our latitude are white – birds like doves, chickens and swans, some horses and sheep. In the streets, most traffic signs and road markings are white in part or in total.
Default Safari shifted our sensibility towards the presence and absence of the color white. Many things we interact with or encounter on a daily basis are white: Walls inside and outside of houses, a lot of furniture, tableware, the majority of books and paper. Most of these objects would not be as white if they were not painted white or bleached. Digital interfaces could have any color, however most of them are white: operating systems like Mac OS and Windows10 use white, grey and blue as their most prominent colors in the default settings. Most websites - this one included - are white.
Important to note is that a smartphone camera analyzes colors differently than the human eye and in consequence interprets bright light or areas illuminated by light as white which do not seem white to the human eye. On the other hand the camera is more nuanced when it comes to the color of a not-so-bright light source while human eyes adapt to it more quickly. That testers from the fields of design and arts were better at noticing and naming light colors than people from other fields demonstrates that an attentiveness to colors and their implications can be learned.