Qualia 760-620λ

19 Feb – 15 Mar 2014

Helen Calder

Helen Calder is a New Zealand artist whose work explores colour, extending the idea of the monochrome and bringing it from a contemplative colour field into a physical engagement.  Colour influences the way we interact with objects and spaces, and Calder’s recent work seeks to bring this phenomenon into a tangible, mindful experience.  Her use of red in Qualia 760-620λ draws from research which shows that the colour can raise the pulse and give the impression that time is passing faster than it really is.


Colour is defined by light waves of various lengths that the brain responds to through cone photoreceptors. We know that a colour is altered by available light and its surroundings, and therefore our experience of it may change under different light conditions; however, scientific knowledge and the ability to explain light and wavelengths cannot vindicate the experience of colour.  Individual responses to colour cannot be shared other than to describe hue in relation to things, for example, “red as a beetroot” or “red-hot”, and even then, one’s experience of a beetroot is as subjective as another’s.

Qualia, originating from the Latin “quale” meaning “what kind”, is a term that references individual instances of purely subjective experience. Qualia 760-620λ consists of a number of paint forms made using commercial pigment in colours translating roughly into the wavelength range of 760-620 nanometers; the lowest frequency of red to red/orange that the human eye can see.

Read Claire Mabey's review on EyeContact

View photos from the opening on Facebook



Edited by Meredith Crowe.

Published in association with the exhibition 'Open Facade' by Tom Mackie, 19 March - 12 April, 2014.

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Helen Calder, Qualia 760-620λ, 2014. Image courtesey of Clare Callaghan.

Helen Calder, Qualia 760-620λ, 2014. Image courtesey of Clare Callaghan.

Qualia 760-620λ is part of the NZ Festival 2014 Visual Arts Programme.  We gratefully acknowledge the support of Becks Beer and would also like to thank Julia Morison and Hamish Garry.