The phenomenon of dreams has interested humanity from the very beginning. Noticeable philosophers and psychologists, such as Aristotle, Descartes, and Freud paid attention to this problem in trying to explain the nature and peculiarities of human dreams. Interestingly, different periods of history represented various imaginations about the human dreams and their characteristics. Recently, researchers began to draw the public attention to the problem of colorful dreams, their causes and reasons. This research will investigate the issue of colorful dreams and prove the idea that recalling of colors in dream is affected by the presentation of the media.
The main objective of the research is to identify the influence of the external surroundings on the human dreams and their features. With the help of picture theory and researches in the sphere of psychology, the influence of the modern media on the coloring of dreams will be determined. Since this aspect is very subjective and dependent on every individual, the research will be based on general scientific studies.
Historical Retrospective about the Color in Dreams
In fact, many scientists and researchers have emphasized on the colorful nature of dreams. However, they explained this phenomenon differently according to the contemporary imaginations and social development. The idea about the connection between the colorful dreams and impact of media was firstly announced by Hall in 1951. He was the very first researcher to pay attention to the influence of colorful media on the human consciousness, thinking and dreaming, as well. In his studies, Hall spoke about completely and partially colorful dreams. He called them “technicolored” in order to emphasize on their resemblance with color movies, which appeared and altered the black-and-white media.
After that, a range of researches was held with the main purpose of investigation the connection between the color media and color dreams. In 1958, Tapia, Werboff and Winokur conducted the research between the undergraduates and got the following results. Only 10% of students reported about seeing color dreams frequently while 31% of them faced color dreams occasionally. At the same time, more than a half (51%) claimed to had never seen any color dreams before (Tapia, Werboff and Winokur 120).
Interestingly, the similar research held in 2006 reflected a slightly different situation. Different groups of respondents answered that they had occasionally encountered color dreams in 28.7% – 52.2% of cases (Schwitzgebel 39). The interesting moment consists in the question about the access to the color media. The respondents of the research conducted in 1958 had limited availability to the mass media while during the second research, more than a half of participants claimed about accessing the media freely.
Judging from these two researches, it is easy to surmise that the access to the color media has made a significant impact on the dreams and resulted in such statistics. It can be noticed that with the development of science and technologies, the amount of people seeing color dreams has only increased. From this point of view, the connection between color media and dreams becomes obvious.
A number of researches aiming at investigation of the nature of human dreams was held during the second half of the 20th century. Almost all researchers came up with the similar results. More than a half of all respondents answered positively to the question about color dreams. In the long run, the scientists stopped arguing about the colorful nature of dreams since they began to take it for granted. To a great extent, they valued the influence of mass media and associated color dreams with the great amount of movies in color.
However, as it has already been mentioned, the investigation of color dreams has begun long before the 20th century. Many psychologists discovered this question and associated it with other than color media factors. For example, Descartes wrote that humans tend to reflect in their spirit (or consciousness) everything they perceive with their organs of perception. From this point of view, color dreams are essential and self-comprehensive since humans perceive external world in colors, as well. In fact, Descartes spoke about the colorful pictures of the objective reality, which contribute to the creation of color dreams. Nowadays, his theory can be expanded and added to pictures movies and other types of animated media. Thus, Descartes’ ideas are close to the modern understanding of color dreams under the influence of color media.
The beginning of the 20th century, though, reflected the other opinion about dreams claiming that they were initially black and white. Probably, such drastic announcements were caused by spreading of the popularity of black-and-white photography. In fact, the first half of the 20th century witnesses the unparalleled success of black-and-white media. Perhaps, such spreading of media encouraged researchers to relate this theory to the nature of human dreams.
The situation changed at the beginning of 1960s when people gained access to the color television. Since that period, researchers re-estimated their opinions about dreams and began to look for new approaches and theories.
The Direct Connection between the Color Media and Dreams
As discussed, the opinions about dreams used to change in accordance with the changes in the media. While black-and-white television was popular, people tended to dream in black-and-white, as well. However, with the advent of the color media, their opinions have dramatically changed. All this makes think over the probable connection between these two concepts.
However, some researchers argue that media cannot serve as a primary source for dreams considering the fact it plays a minor role in human lives. People observe the surrounding they live in more frequently in comparison with movies.
Nevertheless, the crux of the matter consists in the fact that media considerably affects the emotional sphere and causes immediate impressions. As a result, people tend to memorize everything they see on their screen with the ability to reflect it later on. It means that watching a black-and-white movie may find its reflection in the dreams preserving its original colors. On the contrary, color media leads to the color dreams since people begin to associate them with the colorful surroundings and characters they recently watched.
There is also an alternative idea that supports the crucial influence of media on the humans’ dreams. According to it, from the very beginning, philosophers regarded dreams only in color. They could not even imagine the perception of the world in black-and-white. This option became available only with the invention of television. Correspondingly, the study of black-and-white dreams appeared together with the advent of such media. From this example, it can be seen that media does have a great impact on dreams and identify its form and coloring.
At the same time, it should be noted that dreaming is a very personal and subjective process. Researchers cannot be completely sure in the honesty of respondents’ answers. Similarly, the participants of the research may be uncertain whether their dreams are black-and-white or colorful. In any case, it is obvious that dreams reflect the objective reality in the form people perceive it. Therefore, the colorful media as a part of the reality provides enormous effects on the humans’ dreams.
chwitzgebel (2002) suggests the other idea that is slightly remote from the theory of colorful dreams. According to his opinion, the dreams may happen to be neither black-and-white nor colored. This idea is supported by the fact that a great amount of respondents cannot clearly answer whether their dreams are colored or not. The researcher suggests that dreams may exist in some other dimensions and do not follow the traditional theory of colors or their absence. The similar situation appears with the novels. Although they have no colors, readers can easily imagine the surroundings and appearance of main characters associating them with certain colors. In fact, it is a subjective process that is different for every individual. However, its subjectivity witnesses about the prejudiced perception of colors and their identification.
Finally, human memory has limited possibilities to mesmerize big amounts of information for a long time. As a result, the real dream and its further retelling or discussion may strongly differ. In addition, it is difficult to say exactly whether the personal expectations and desires about the dreams indeed coincide with their objective coloring.
Although dreaming is a complicated process, which is difficult to investigate and determine, there are some ideas witnessing about their connection with the objective reality and world perception. It is true that dreams reflect pictures from the real life, which have provided a strong influence on humans’ minds and consciousness. From this point of view, it is appropriate to discuss the theory of picture in order to understand the mechanism of dreaming and its coloring.
The Relations between Dreams and Theory of Picture
The theory of picture suggested by Wittgenstein, reveals the nature of picture and its correlation with the language and our imagination and perception of the visual. According to his theory, picture consists of the elements and the form. Elements denote the objects from the objective reality, which interact between each other and form a certain sequence and arrangement. In fact, these elements serve as the representatives of certain objects, which humans perceive with their eyes.
However, there is one more thing to speak about in relation to the pictures. This is the very form, which helps people to perceive the element is a certain order. Wittgenstein explains that the interaction between element and their structure constitute the very form of a picture.
Pictures are perceived in complex. In addition, many scientists (Wittgenstein, Mitchell) surmise that humans tend to think and speak with the help of pictures. In fact, the language structure contains images and pictures, as well (Copi and Beard 305). This theory witnesses about the solid connection between the visual pictures and way of world perception. It explains the paramount role of visual graphs, images and pictures in the humans’ knowledge and experience of the world.
Furthermore, the picture exists in the two-dimensional world. It represents some objects or events from the objective reality determining their location in space. Therefore, people can say that picture deals with the spatial relations between the objects, without emphasizing on the temporal aspect.
According to Mitchell, the theory of picture is based on the paradox. On one hand, it looks forward to the advent of the video era with the enormous electronic and technological possibilities to render the visual images. However, on the other hand, it demonstrates the fear that such an distortion of the graphical information may destroy traditional way of world perception (Mitchell 15).
Furthermore, the researcher claims that theory of picture includes the complicated interaction between the “linguistics, visuality, apparatus, institutions, discourse, bodies, and figurality” (Mitchell 16). In his opinion, it is relevant to speak about the visual literacy and the ability to perceive objects and events in the appropriate way.
From this point of view, it can be seen that the theory of picture has a direct connection with the theory of color dreams as a result of media’s impact. Since people perceive the world in certain pictures (images or graphical information), they find its reflection in the dreams in the same form and coloring. Not surprisingly, the spreading of color media has led to the raise of the question of color dreams. Media provides people with the complete pictures with well-arranged elements and structure. As a result, they are easy to perceive, memorize and reproduce in the form of dreaming.
The theory of picture is closely connected with the theory of depiction and description. According to Richard Wollheim (1991), the theory of depiction is based on the concept of twofoldness. According to his studying, humans try to associate their experience of the objects and events with the objective reality. As a result, human mind is seeking for the resemblance between the existed mental images and real objects. This function is fulfilled with the help of depiction. Depiction helps to perceive the world in at least two dimensions and provide the spectators with the primary information.
A famous psychologist James J. Gibson regarded depiction as a visual perception of the objective reality. He supposed it to be the first source of information about the real world. With the help of depiction, humans are able to organize their experience and summarize it in the visual form. From this point of view, depiction is essential for the dreams and their perception in color.
Conclusion: To sum up, the coloring of dreams depends on the media and its influence on the humans’ consciousness and minds. Many researchers have paid attention to this problem since it is closely connected with the comprehension of the psychological sphere and mental processes. For many centuries, the philosophers believed dreams to be colorful as they reflect the objective reality and the picture of the external world. However, with the invention of the photography and animated movies, the approach has changed proving the black-and-white nature of dreams. Later on, though, the spreading of color media returned the researchers to the issue of color dreams.
In fact, there are many ideas that support the great influence of color media on dreams. It is true that media influences the emotional sphere and affects the humans’ feelings and attitudes. As a result, people tend to memorize pictures, which they see on the screens, and reproduce them mentally in the dreams. Another idea that contributes to this connection is the theory of picture. It emphasizes on the crucial role of the visuality on humans’ knowledge and experience of the world. In addition, it claims that the spreading of color media has led to the creation of moving pictures, which are easy to memorize and reflect in the dreams. Since human mind perceives information in the form of separate images, the invention of color media strongly contributes to the formation of color dreams.
Therefore, according to numerous researches and studies in the field of dreams, it can be concluded that color media provides an unparalleled effect on the coloring of human dreams.