Alert but not alarmed: Colour coding the in/securities of airport mobilities

Dr Kaya Barry1, Ms Diti Bhattacharya1

1Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia


Wayfaring designs organise movement through transit spaces using representational cues embedded in the architecture, lighting, colour, and signage. This is exemplified in airports where colour coding is universalised though stringent OH&S regulations that dictate how and where travelling publics can and should move. ‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ mobilities are communicated through reds, greens, and fluorescent oranges, priming individuals to be alert of their position and movements at all times. Compounding this are the restrictions for certain bodies and nationalities who attract closer scrutiny, where heavy surveillance and increased securitisation that accentuate the representations of global mobilities. Drawing on experiences of passing through borders in Auckland and Copenhagen airports, the paper analyses how colour extenuates and heightens alertness, vigilance, and compliance with expected mobility behaviours. We propose that colour coding standards curate atmospheres of in/securities and performances of mobile identities, further universalising the ‘travelling public’.


Kaya Barry is an artist-geographer and current Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Griffith University, Brisbane. Research interests include mobilities, migration, creative arts, air travel, aesthetics, materiality, and tourist practices.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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