The COLOR CODEX series — to which SEMIOVOX has invited our semiotician colleagues from around the world to contribute — explores the unexpected associations evoked for each of us by specific colors found in the material world.
Fifteen years ago, I was elated to find myself in the French and Portuguese streets of Pondicherry, enjoying the food, cafes, bars, and people from all over India and the world. I was 19 years old, and 2500km away from home. The next day, while riding a motorbike outside the city, I stumbled upon Auroville… which I now consider my home away from home.
Founded in 1968, Auroville is an experimental township situated mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu. Here, you’ll find thousands of white faces mixed with local South Indians; a lush green forest; and mesmerizing, orange-spoked architecture patterned upon a Fibonacci spiral. It’s a secluded, nearly car-free realm of barefoot hippies walking along orange pathways. Auroville is intended to be a universal township of people from every corner of the globe, coming together to live a life of human unity beyond nationalities, religious creed, or politics.
My initial reaction was to laugh. When you grow up in India, you’re deeply skeptical about the prospect of any sort of human unity — and particularly if this unity transcends religious differences. But I fell in love with the orange-ness of Auroville, and a few years later I’d become a part of this community. With orange bricks beneath our feet and an orange rising or setting sun above our heads, we’d celebrate being alive through everything from ecstatic dancing, bonfires (also orange), silent meditations, and music-healing. I embraced this harmonious life in the forest — with huge banyan trees adding a beautiful contrast of green to Auroville’s orange. My relationship to sunlight changed too; I used to cover my windows with black paper, but now I embraced this massive orange orb in the sky.
Although I no longer live there, Auroville Orange for me will forever be deeply meaningful. I first realized what the color had come to signify for me some ten years after I first visited Auroville. I was sitting in one of the town’s meditation chambers — it was called Receptivity — and the orange light that flooded the pin-drop silent room put me in a receptive frame of mind indeed. (It felt like I was in the psychedelic movie Enter the Void on a DMT trip.) Auroville Orange, for me, signifies living close to nature, in harmony with everyone around you, without oppressive technology or consumerism — while striving to ignite human compassion for the self, others, and nature.
I’ve adopted the color orange for my company, Fresh Think. The company’s color, and its name too, pay homage to Auroville’s lessons of empathy, kindness, and compassion.
COLOR CODEX: Martha Arango (Sweden) on FALUKORV RED | Audrey Bartis (France) on KYOTO MOSS | Maciej Biedziński (Poland) on SKIN-DEEP ORANGE | Natasha Delliston (England) on MARRAKESH MINT | Whitney Dunlap-Fowler (USA) on RESURRECTION CANARY BLUE | Josh Glenn (USA) on TOLKIEN GREEN | Aiyana Gunjan (India) on LETTERBOX RED | Sarah Johnson (Canada) on ARMY GREEN | Gemma Jones (Netherlands) on TBD | Lucia Laurent-Neva (England) on TEAL BLUE VOYAGER | Rachel Lawes (England) on DEVIL GREEN | Charles Leech (Canada) on STORMTROOPER WHITE | William Liu (China) on PINING GREEN | Ramona Lyons (USA) on GOTH PURPLE | Sónia Marques (Portugal) on RUNAWAY BURRO | Max Matus (Mexico) on CALIFORNIAN BLUE | Chirag Mediratta (Canada / India) on AUROVILLE ORANGE | Clio Meurer (France) on PARIS LUMINOUS GREY | Elodie Laye Mielczarek (France) on TBD | Serdar Patkin (Turkey / England) on AMBIENT AMBER | Maria Papanthymou (Russia / Greece) on AGALMATOLITE WHITE | Vijay Parthasarathy (USA) on ALPHONSO YELLOW | Greg Rowland (England) on LAUNDROMAT FUTURA | Tim Spencer (England) on ELECTRO-EROTIC COBALT | Ximena Tobi (Argentina) on VILLA MISERIA BRICK | Alfredo Troncoso (Mexico) on BORGES GLAUQUE.