The Mantis Shrimp is a crustacean known for two things:

  • its punch
  • its eyes

For this question I will focus on the latter.

A theory about the effects of their super vision is that it causes their colorful exo-skeleton. It looks weird to us, but to them it probably looks normal. And this brings me to my question:

What would the pigments would be used in the art of an intelligent race of aliens with super advanced eyes (they can see from microwaves to UV on the electromagnetic spectrum) and would the wider range of pigments that they chooses to use, look any different to us humans who can see a shorter width of the color spectrum? would there be a larger use of what humans perceive as monochromes or would we see a color picture but just not the whole picture?

Too make this less broad I will write here some cultural and psychological stuff about the alien race.

Language Colors Their language is completely tone deaf and pitch deaf, they communicate with short hisses and color changes. It's complicated but basically the colors spiral down their body and change very fast(think rainbow candy cane designs). Colors' purpose in their language is to communicate emotion, who you are and talking to, importance and urgency.

Ecology Their is a ton cobalt on the planets surface, and the color of alarm for most of the organisms on the planet is hot pink and purple. All of the major autotroughs are blue and purple because of all the cobalt everywhere


closed as primarily opinion-based by Renan, Aify, EveryBitHelps, AlexP, sphennings May 4 '18 at 23:42

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ This is way too broad and likely also POB. You want to narrow this down into a single, more technical question. Careful: You may get some VTC's. Just a tip. $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental May 4 '18 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Anonymous how can i make less broad $\endgroup$ – Amoeba May 4 '18 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ Focus on one type of art at a time, maybe. You also might want to ask about a more specific point: like, how paint would look through their eyes. Basically an question like "what would X be like to X if X" is likely to get downvotes from being "POB/Too Broad." The Sandbox is useful for testing and seeing how to narrow this down. $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental May 4 '18 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ You can also ask about it in a Worldbuilding Chat. $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental May 4 '18 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ Color is a sensation. It exists in the mind. It is not a physical quantity; it does not exist in nature. It is meaningless to compare the color perception of species which are not closely related. It is utterly meaningless to compare human color perception with the color perception of a species which can see electromagnetic waves way outside the human visible spectrum. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 4 '18 at 22:04

If two species can see the same single frequency, a frequency that we might call "red," we could point at it and say "red" and the other species could point at it and say "Qw'mGGGrsk!" (and then we hope like crazy that what the critter said translates to "red" and not "that's really ugly" or "why did you show me this?" or "Yeah... it looks a bit like you when we step on you").

To be honest, the ability to see a wider spectrum would have nothing to do with buildings other than what colors they're painted. Building architecture has pretty much everything to do with how a creature manipulates its world.

IF your intelligent shrimp can find pigments that reflect colors we can't see, they might use them in art... and we wouldn't see the colors. They might point to a canvas that looks blank to us (because we can't see the color) and, asking us what we think of their 9-year-old daughter's art, we might say something that starts an intergalactic war.

Remember, in our world, we can't see reflected microwave transmissions. They might see a blaze of color as those transmissions bounce off of metal, or mountains, or whatever else microwaves bounce off of. If our broadcast amplitude is high enough, it might appear bright — like the sun. If it's low enough, they would give everything a new highlight color. The same for lower frequencies.

But, in the end, we wouldn't see a thing. The world around us would look just like our world — we simply wouldn't see what they can see and so would make the same mistakes a color blind person would in our world if not accomodated. For example, color blind people need to care about which light is on at an intersection because the green and red lights look the same to them.

Can you imagine what would happen if your intelligent shrimp painted the restroom signs in microwave colors? We wouldn't even see the signs. The bar keep would say, "yeah, the restrooms are over there," and we'd have a 50/50 shot of not getting the snot beaten out of us. (And the later embarrasment of explaining to our friends how we were savaged by a shrimp....)

  • $\begingroup$ So basically from your answer, they might use metals in art to reflect microwaves, and other stuff to reflect UV and infrared waves, also they aren't shrimps(It was a bit misleading by my reference to them) they are more like human sized amoebas than anything else on earth, thx for the answer $\endgroup$ – Amoeba May 4 '18 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ 😉 No problem! But, yes, one kind of reflective material is metal. If you think about it, what you're looking at when you view a painting is pigment, not color (per-se). White pigment often includes titanium, in which case you are looking at a metal that happens to appear white to the human eye. Your aliens would create a pigment that reflects colors we can't see. We might see that a mass is present, but not see the color (unless they're working with dyes, then all you'd see is the canvas or paper). $\endgroup$ – JBH May 4 '18 at 22:55

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