Friday, August 13, 2010

PoMo Green versus Institutional Green

We all know institutional or hospital green, though we probably don't know much about it.

Technically it is called Chromium Oxide Green and though it is no longer made (much) it was a technical wonder in its day.

Most chromium paint wasn't green - the green color was selected for the paint used in public institutions like prisons (remember the Green Mile ?), hospitals and institutions for the chronically ill and mentally insane.

Today it gives a bad vibe for being associated with these places of discomfort and shame, but this pastel like shade of green was originally selected because color scientists judged it the most calming shade for institution inmates.

The reason why it was made from chromium oxide was because this paint was tough tough tough and chemically toxic - it resisted stomach contents and common hospital cleaners AND because it was so tough and smooth,that made it harder for germ-sustaining dirt to hang about.

It was the most typical color of the Streamlined Moderne Decade from about 1934-1944 - by no coincidence the Apogee of the Modernist Age.

But that is soooooo yesterday.

Today's green is PoMo Green and it is not a paint at all - it is the natural verdant color of Nature itself - green grass, green trees, green ocean deeps.

The very first PoMo green?

Glad you asked !

It was all those Kodachrome-vivid color photographs of green-blue penicillium molds in the color supplements so popular during the World War Two years (when neither TV or film gave you much color) that appeared post the Spring of 1944.

That was about the time when it became embarassingly apparent that man-made medicine was being eclipsed by life-saving medicine from a humble and slimy low life normally found in our basements --- a shock Modernist Science never really recovered from.

Now it would just take Adorno and Horkheimer to make it official, which they did - in The Dialectic of the Enlightenment.

Move over Mo, Po has arrived.....

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