It is called The Dress, and it mystifies almost all who witness it. Is it black and blue, white and gold, or some other set of colors? While the shifting appearance of this incredible dress has become an incredible phenomenon in a short amount of time online, Philly News reports this Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, that the secret behind truly seeing this article of clothing all has to do with the brain. It is no trick, but perhaps simply an incredible design that catches the eye.
The first time The Dress was worn at a wedding, a bridesmaid said she couldn’t stop looking at it, and that it was completely “mental.” While the piece of clothing was indeed a shock, that statement isn’t entirely false. It seems this apparent white-and-gold dress has since become a digital phenomenon, causing an immense stir all across the Internet among casual viewers and fashion aficionados alike.
What is the secret to seeing this vision shrouded in mystery? The Wired News says the answer all pertains to the human brain in adjusting to light and color. The originally black-and-blue dress was posted to Tumblr and has since sparked intense debate. A number of factors play a role in #thedress, but experts in vision say that the human brain “compensates for differences in background and lighting colors.”
For example, at dusk, a white shirt may look somewhat bluish in the light, as it reflects the “blue” wavelengths that appear in a twilit sky. Nonetheless, the human brain sees the shirt as still a white color because it automatically compensates for the darkening effect. A dark object, in a contrary viewpoint, can look much lighter as it begins to appear in the bright sunlight.
A University of Pennsylvania professor, David Brainard, notes that these automatic adjustments that play such a significant role in the dress craze are in fact very important to human sense and vision. If the brain was unable to understand how to adjust the light and dark colors of transitional objects in various surroundings, we would be confused quite easily in terms of how we see. As a result, especially on the Internet with different shades of light and screen features, people will see the colors of the fabric in slightly different ways.
Ultimately, the dress indeed mystifies all. As our brain fills in these uncertain gaps, we have to agree to disagree over this apparent fashion secret or “trick.” Is it a black-and-blue dress in the bright light, or white and gold in the shadows? Perhaps it is all at once, at least to our brains at a particular point in time.
“I’m subtracting the blue to make white,” one eye doctor said in a statement. “They’re subtracting the lighter color to make blue … Obviously we don’t all see the same.” The original seller of the incredible dress was from a store identified as Roman Originals. Professor Brainard added, “The brain codes color relative to everything else in the image … The brain is basically constantly adjusting what you might call its color balance, its white balance.”