Organizing Color: Toward a Chromatics of the Social

Organizing Color: Toward a Chromatics of the Social

We live in a world that is saturated with color, but how should we make sense of color’s force and capacities? This book develops a theory of color as fundamental medium of the social.

Constructed as a montage of scenes from the past two hundred years, Organizing Color demonstrates how the interests of capital, management, governance, science, and the arts have wrestled with color’s allure and flux. Beyes takes readers from Goethe’s chocolate experiments in search of chromatic transformation to nineteenth-century Scottish cotton mills designed to modulate workers’ moods and productivity, from the colonial production of Indigo in India to globalized categories of skin colorism and their disavowal. Tracing the consumption, control and excess of industrial and digital color, other chapters stage encounters with the literary chromatics of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow processing the machinery of the chemical industries, the red of political revolt in Godard’s films, and the blur of education and critique in Steyerl’s Adorno’s Grey.

Contributing to a more general reconsideration of aesthetic capitalism and the role of sensory media, this book seeks to pioneer a theory of social organization—a “chromatics of organizing”—that is attuned to the protean and world-making capacity of color.

About the author

Timon Beyes is Professor of Sociology of Organisation and Culture at Leuphana University Lüneburg.

“The immanent critique and ‘tender empiricism’ of this book, its eloquence and capacity to move from detailed grounding to exciting passages of speculative thought, ensures that Organizing Color escapes ‘the archaic stillness of the book.’ Impressively researched and written.”

—Seán Cubitt, University of Melbourne

“Inventive, brilliantly written, and very readable, Organizing Color recovers and explicates the relevance of color to social form—be that chromatic or racialized color.”

—Esther Leslie, Birkbeck, University of London

“Organizing is often imagined as a functional concept that belongs in business schools. In this beautifully written and illustrated book, Timon Beyes sprinkles aesthetics and politics over this black and white picture. The result is a breathtaking work that will change the way we understand how to ‘see’ organization.”

—Martin Parker, University of Bristol

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