How Black is Black Metal? Color as a Relational Identity



Color looms large in all walks of life, but remains muted in organizational research. We explore the “chromatics of organizing” by developing a theoretical framework, tested with a quantitative method that allows to extract information from visual sources. We present coloring choices as relational and temporal in nature, as manifested in the alignment between color and content, and in the use of color as a means of positioning, animated by forces of association and disassociation. Our research context is Norwegian black metal – an “extreme metal” genre that gained lasting notoriety in the 1990’s for  its implication in church fires. Our analysis of the color palettes on album covers over three decades testifies to the alignment between color and content, and to the use of color as a positioning device.  The black color was critical in the construction of a relational identity, as the bands increased reliance on black in pursuing differentiation from commercial, colorful metal, but reduced its use in pursuing proximity to mainstream metal in combatting stigmatization. We demonstrate how color analysis can help bring to light underlying oppositions that define relational identities.

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Meeting ID: 992 2649 9845

Passcode: 158224