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Posts Tagged ‘Camouflage

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”*…


The Boeing airplane factory in Seattle got the “fake neighborhood” treatment. The women shown are walking on a suburban landscape made of chicken wire and planks, positioned over the roof of the factory. Underneath, B-17s were being built for the war effort.

Military forces have used camouflage of one sort or another since antiquity.  But with the advent of the airplane and the rise of aerial warfare, camouflage (to hide targets) and decoys (to draw fire away from real targets or to intimidate the enemy) became bigger and bigger: “Massive Wartime Decoys and Camouflage Operations.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War


As we misdirect, we might send convincingly animated birthday greetings to Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen; he was born on this date in 1920.  A visual effects pioneer, he became a writer and producer of films featuring the stop-motion model animation technique, “Dynamation,” that he developed.  He is probably best remembered for the animation in Mighty Joe Young (1949, with his mentor, King Kong animator Willis H. O’Brien), which won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects; The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, his first color film); and Jason and the Argonauts (1963, which featured an amazing sword fight between Jason and seven skeleton warriors).  His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981).

Harryhausen and one of the skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts



Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

Now you don’t…

Camouflage– cryptic coloration– is common in the majority of species that have lived on earth; but military camouflage is a relatively recent development.  Through the early 19th Century, almost all soldiers tended to dress in bright colors chosen precisely to make them more identifiable on the battlefield; it was during World War I that camouflage found common use.

The earliest military camouflage drew on the work of zoologist and artist Abbott Thayer, applying lessons from the animal kingdom to secreting troops and tanks.

But World War I was as importantly a naval war.  Norman Wilkinson, a marine painter [and your correspondent’s relatively distant ancestor] who was in the Royal Navy, is credited with being the first to develop camouflage for ships– “dazzle,” a kind of camouflage that is “disruptive” like zebra’s stripes. The Royal Navy allowed him to test his idea; and when the test went well, Wilkinson was told to proceed… but was given no office space.  So he went to his alma mater, the Royal Academy, and was given a classroom. Wilkinson hired Vorticist Edward Wadsworth to be a port officer in Liverpool, England and to oversee the painting of dazzle ships.  In 1918, Wilkinson came to United States to share his dazzle plans. 1,000 plans were developed through this partnership.

One of Wilkinson’s U.S. collaborators was Maurice L. Freedman, the district camoufleur for the 4th district of the U.S. Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation (a precursor to today’s Merchant Marine).  Maurice’s job was to take the plans, adjust them if necessary, then hire painters (artists, house painters) to paint the ships accordingly.

Freedman, who attended  the Rhode Island School of Design after the war, donated the plans and photos in his collection to the Fleet Library at RISD.  Now (through the end of March) those plans are on display at the library– and online.

As we dress discretely
, we might recall that it was on this date in 1258 that (a decidedly un-camouflaged) Hulagu Khan (a grandson of Genghis) and his Mongol force sacked Baghdad, and brought the Abbasid Caliphate (source of, among other marvels, algebra) to an end.

Hulagu and his Queen, Dokuz Khatun

…Now you don’t…

Liu Bolin is a young Shandong-based artist who exhibited primarily in China until last year’s solo shows at Paris’ Galerie Bertin Toublanc and the Eli Klein Gallery in New York.  His series “Camouflage” is “an exploration of human nature and animal instincts” which features Chinese citizens painted to blend into their surroundings. The subjects are covered head to toe in paint, camouflaging themselves in front of the Chinese flag, a billboard or other features of downtown Beijing…

source: Designboom

It is perhaps not altogether surprising to learn that Liu Bolin has had some trouble with Chinese authorities…  For more of the series, visit the gallery links above, or Designboom.

As we try to blend in, we might tip our flattened fedoras to Joseph Francis “Buster” Keaton IV, born on this date in 1895…  Keaton was surely right when he observed that “tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”  But he was equally surely wrong when he protested that “no man can be a genius in slapshoes and a flat hat.”

Buster Keaton

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

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