The standardization of color television in the US during the postwar era was, in large part, discussed and determined in relation to historical developments in color theory (philosophical, psychological, and physical), colorimetry, color design and industry, psychophysics, psychology and, of course, what had already been established industrially, culturally, and technically for monochrome television. In this presentation, Susan Murray explores how these various threads of scientific, aesthetic, philosophical, and industrial knowledge were built into the standards, processes, and procedures for and around the technology and use of color television from the late 1940s and into the early 1950s. This presentation is less about color programming itself, and more about the discourses that framed and managed color use and reception not only in the standardization period, but also during RCA and NBC’s early attempts to sell color to consumers, sponsors, and critics.
Susan Murray is associate professor of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU. She is the author of Hitch Your Antenna to the Stars! Early Television and Broadcast Stardom (2005) and the coeditor (with Laurie Ouellette) of Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture (2004, 2009). She has received fellowships from the ACLS and NYU’s Humanities Initiative for 2013-14 and is currently writing a history of color television from 1929-1970, which is under contract with Duke University Press.