Why is the No Video Signal Blue? Or, Color is No Longer Separable From Form, and the Collective Joins the Brightness Confound.

~A Guided Meditation~

This video is best enjoyed fullscreen with headphones. Feel free to adjust the brightness confound throughout the course of the video.

This audio file can be played anywhere there is a projector or monitor that shows blue when there is no signal.


This text can be read aloud or to oneself anywhere there is a projector or monitor that shows blue when there is no signal.

Why is the no video signal blue?

The screen is blue unlike the blue on that day last summer when you looked up into the sky and really felt the blueness. The screen is blue unlike the pool you saw from afar on a day when the sky was clear and blue. This blue is too dark to be day, too bright to be night, entirely this blue and not that blue. Neither the light blue of comfort, nor the dark blue of fear.

This is not the blue screen of death, the blue screen of doom, or a stop error. This blue is different than a blue screen of death on a mac computer, which is different than a blue screen of death on a windows computer. These three blue screens are all meant to signify different issues.

In the English language, blue often represents the human emotion of sadness. In German, to be blue is to be drunk. Yet a blue sky staring at you tends to symbolize happiness or optimism.  A blue film is a pornographic film.

On a mood ring, blue is generally regarded as indicating a relaxed mood, someone who is at ease. As blue is also the color associated with the throat chakra, this shade may appear at a time when you are vocally struggling or vocally asserting yourself.

Does this blue screen make you see bluish skin? Is that light colored clothing now blue? And the walls? Is this environment becoming no video signal blue? If you were to smile, would your teeth turn blue? If you are awake, are the whites of your eyes now blue?

If you were to take two instances of the no video signal blue, both would be different. Wittgenstein may as well have written: “In my room I am surrounded by objects of different colors. It is easy to say what color they are. But if I were asked what color I am now seeing from here at, say, this place on my table, I couldn’t answer; the place is whitish (because the light wall makes my no video signal blue table lighter here) at any rate it is much lighter than the rest of the table, but, given a number of color samples, I wouldn’t be able to pick out one which had the same coloration as this area of my no video signal blue table” The philosopher, staring pensively at the table in front of him, begins to unsee things, things he has seen and the color of which he knows. When he looks more closely, he notices that there is a gap between what he has seen and what he is seeing. Looking closer, he sees that color is not separate from illumination.

The inseparability of color and illumination was dubbed “the brightness confound” by an empirical researcher frustrated at his inability to explain away the anomalies of vision. Standard “blue” or “red” or “white” separate from vagaries of illumination, are seen anytime in principle, but nowhere in particular. Anytime and nowhere: the elements of the empirical, or hues on the color wheel, are timeless and spaceless. The singular is without model and without resemblance. It resembles only itself. As anyone who has dressed herself knows, “we judge colors by the company they keep.” It is not just that colors mutually change, or reciprocally vary, when they congregate; more radically, they become unstable and even imperceptible in isolation. What is singular about color is the relationality of its ever-varying appearing. Colors are convivial by nature. Deprive them of company and they “blank out.” A color is an alteration of a complete spectrum.

What the philosopher unsees is what a baby sees: a brightness confound enveloped in an experiential confound. What is perceived is wholly and only change. The baby responds to changes in energy, ignoring modality of input. The baby perceives only transition, unspecified as to sense. Given that the spatial sense is one of those unspecified, the transition is without beginning and endpoints: relation without its terms. Termless, relation does not objectively appear. It can only appear as a whole and energetically: as an unspecified (if not undifferentiated) intensity of total experience.

No beginning, no end. Just event, just William James’ “streaming.” In seeing, the elements of things settle only slowly into general classes divided according to sense mode and inculcated through conventional language, language used as an abstract standard of comparison.

Letter to Sony


I am an artist working with video and digital media. I am wondering why monitors + projectors show the color blue when there is no signal. When was this decided? Who decided? How did the decision become implemented? I understand that basic customer service will probably not be able to answer this question, but if I could be pointed in the right direction I would appreciate it very much. In short, why is the no video signal screen blue?


Andrew Norman Wilson

Response from Sony

Andrew Wilson,

Thank you for contacting Sony Support.

In order to determine the exact resolution for your support issue, we require the model number of your Sony unit. Please get back to us with the complete/correct model number of your Sony unit and I will be able to research and provide you the information.

Thank you for understanding.

The Sony Email Response Team



My Response to Sony


The resolution of my Sony unit is irrelevant for this question. I understand if it’s not within your job description to know the answer, but if you could speak to your manager and have them direct the question to the appropriate person at Sony (perhaps a senior engineer), it would be much appreciated.

To summarize, I’m wondering why the the decision was made to show the color blue when there is no signal. Why is the no video signal screen colored blue?



Response from Sony


I’m sorry for the confusion in the previous response. The product specification you are seeking has not currently been published by Sony. Unfortunately, this information is beyond the scope of what we are able to provide through our online support service.

If you sincerely require this information you can make a formal request for this data by calling our customer service division. If appropriate they will take down your contact information and pass your request through to the sustaining engineering team responsible for this product. You may reach them at (800) 222-7669.

No response from Sony’s sustaining engineering team

Response from Panasonic

Thank you for your inquiry.

At this time, we cannot advise you of the reason the decision was made to make the monitors a solid blue screen when there is no signal. This decision was not determined by Panasonic.

We hope this information is helpful to you. Thank you for choosing Panasonic.

My Response to Panasonic


Do you have any way of finding out who made this decision?



Response from Panasonic

Thank you for your response.

We have no way of finding out this information. you may have to conduct an online research on this particular inquiry.

Thank you for contacting Panasonic.

Response from VIZIO

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for your email to Vizio. Here at Vizio we pride ourselves in our service and best in class support and honestly the blue signal screen just seems to be the industry standard. We are not certain who implemented it or why they chose blue. I do apologize that I couldn’t be of more assistance to you with this issue.


Leah Anderson


“America’s #1 LCD HDTV Company”

Even if everything we see is blue, we are also able to imagine red. We are capable of forming feelings, and yearning after potentialities, that differ from those provided by actual entities in the actual world. The data of novelty is not present in these actualities, and so it must arise out of our subjective aim. See red, see yellow, see green, see orange, see purple, see pink, see black.


Works Cited


hhellblauu.tumblr.com - Kari Altmann

r-u-ins.tumblr.com - R-u-ins.org

survivaltips.tumblr.com - Katja Novitskova

econimish.tumblr.com - Nick Lalla

www.visual-aids.org - Sam Hancocks



Final Cut Pro


Walter de Maria - “Ocean Music”

Alice Deejay - “Better Off Alone”


Brian Massumi - “Parables for the Virtual”

Ludwig Wittgenstein - “Remarks on Colour”




  1. Great work, Andrew!!! Keep up your research! You continually raise the right questions.

    All the best,