When you look up to the night sky, you probably see pitch black like most people. The reason for this is because humans are generally trichromatic, meaning that we have three color receptors in our eyes that allow us to see reds, greens, and blues. At night, when the sun’s gone down, our vision doesn’t afford us the luxury of distinguishing color. But get this: Concetta Antico has four color receptors, meaning that she’s a tetrachromat. Her impression of the night sky is the exact opposite of ours–rich with vibrant color. Can you imagine seeing the moon surrounded by a rainbow? It sounds like some beautiful acid trip, only it’s Antico’s everyday sober experience.
As a trichromatic, humans can see about ten million colors. If you think that sounds like a lot, University of Washington ophthalmologist Jay Neitz estimates that tetrachromats can see 100 million colors. Yep, 10 times those with regular vision! According to Antico, this has clear advantages beyond the novelty aspect. She claims that she can notice when someone is ill just by looking at them, as the subtle changes in their skin are significant to her. Antico has been studied by various scientists who acknowledge that human tetrachromacy may be advantageous for diagnosing disease, as a doctor with more basic vision might miss certain symptoms. Of course, there are disadvantages to everything, and Antico’s heightened sense of color also means she’s more sensitive to it. For instance, the artificial colors in a grocery store are especially flat.
Antico has found a way to put her extraordinary color gift to good use, working as an artist in California. She paints what she sees, from beautiful land- and seascapes, still life, birds, nocturnes, and more. Below is the serene Sydney Harbor, in Australia, where she grew up.
Is that something, or what? Be sure to check out Antico’s gallery, because every piece is as breathtaking as this. What do you make of Antico’s story? What about her art? Do you know anyone who’s a tetrachromat? Give me a shout on Twitter, or sound off in the comments below.
IMAGES: Concetta Antico