It’s been some time since the internet had the opportunity to intensely debate over the color of an inanimate object. This vibrant tradition started back in February 2015 when a remarkable photograph of a striped dress became a viral internet sensation, with some people perceiving the object as white and gold and others black and blue. Then, a couple of years later, there was the lesser appreciated sequel “what color are these clothes?” and the disappointing trilogy finale, “are these shows pink or grey?”
Now, the saga continues: “What color is the caravan?” Tiktok user RetroViscountReno has recently been chronicling their renovation of a Viscount caravan (that's a motorhome or RV, if you're in the US) from the 1970s and its color has been causing some confusion (video below).
In a recent video, below, they ask: "This van is an optical illusion. What can you do you see? What color does your partner see? And what color does your family see? Because I can tell you right now, the color you see is not the right color.
Most people in the comments appear to think the van is off-white on top and mint green on the bottom, while a handful of others argue it’s grey with pink at the bottom. The account owner, Spencer Porter from Victoria in Australia, assured all these people were wrong.
Revealing the true color, Porter told news.com.au the van was, in fact, white and green.
“I said, ‘oh that’s a really nice white and blue caravan’ and then my partner said, ‘no it’s pink and white’, so we had a little argument there. Then we showed the in-laws and they saw something different too, so we quickly realised everyone had a different perspective as to what it was,” Porter told the Australian online news outlet.
“It‘s just bizarre,” he added.
“But, at the end of day, the bare-bones colour is white and green.”
The explanation of these optical illusions is usually a matter of lighting and a phenomenon known as chromatic adaptation. Our perception of a color object is easily shaped by its context, typically its surrounding color (as shown by the optical illusion above). As such, people tend to perceive the colors differently based on their assumptions or interpretations about the light falling on it. If it’s difficult to discern the quality of light on an object, then confusion can arise.
In the case of the infamous dress, it was suggested that people who assumed it was being lit with yellow-tinted illumination tend to see it as black and blue, while those who assumed blue-tinted illumination saw it as white and gold. It’s likely that a similar phenomenon is going on with this Australian van. Alternatively, the vehicle really is just white and mint, and this social-savvy Tiktok user has just hoodwinked the internet.