Camouflage

Overview

The fascinating story of camouflage: from nature to the military to the worlds of art, design, and popular culture.
The animal kingdom provides examples of all the essential principles of camouflage: the chameleon, whose colors change to merge with its setting; the zebra, whose vivid stripes disrupt its outline and make it more difficult for predators to sight from a distance; the stick insect that pretends to be what it's not.
Creativity in ...

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Overview

The fascinating story of camouflage: from nature to the military to the worlds of art, design, and popular culture.
The animal kingdom provides examples of all the essential principles of camouflage: the chameleon, whose colors change to merge with its setting; the zebra, whose vivid stripes disrupt its outline and make it more difficult for predators to sight from a distance; the stick insect that pretends to be what it's not.
Creativity in the art of disguise was spurred in World War I by the threats of aerial reconnaissance and long-range enemy fire. Aircraft and ships were painted with lozenge and zigzag patterns to make them more difficult to target. Artists were involved in creating these patterns, and were influenced in turn by the extraordinary painted vessels, said to be like floating cubist paintings. In 1919 the Chelsea Arts Club in London, inspired by wartime camouflage patterns, staged the Dazzle Ball, the first known example of camouflage influencing popular culture. Since then, artists from Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol to Bridget Riley have explored the themes and extremes of camouflage and optical illusion, while camouflage patterns in clothes and accessories have filtered from the street to high fashion and back again.
Uniforms made from camouflage-printed textiles were first developed before World War II, and teams of artists, designers, and scientists worked together to create ever more sophisticated modes of camouflage and disguise. Today's high-tech research on textiles that are resistant to infrared and thermal detection shows a new direction in the future of camouflage.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Miller, the medical doctor and stage director, introduces this volume with an essay on camouflage in nature. Newark, editor of the magazine Military Illustrated,writes the history of camouflage in its military context starting in the 19th century and ending with the present war in Iraq. A final chapter touches on camouflage in popular culture, fine art and fashion. The development of long-range weapons taught armies the advantages of blending in rather than standing out on the battlefield. Air reconnaissance in WWI introduced the need for the disruptive pattern techniques still used by armies worldwide. Inspiration for patterns came from both nature and modern art, and scientists and artists at different times took the lead in developing techniques and materials. Cubist-inspired "Dazzle" designs covered warships, and factories disappeared under acres of netting. Newark acknowledges that camouflage has always been more effective on equipment than on men, but soldiers identify intensely with their national patterns—frog skin, oak leaf, chocolate chip, etc. Current experiments involve iridescence and fiber optics. Newark's text is informative, but the story is told best by the 248 color and 32 black-and-white illustrations drawn from photographic archives, military training manuals, street culture and fashion layouts. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Interdisciplinary works on camouflage are few and far between. In the years since the practical applications of visual disguise became widespread during the two world wars, many publications have appeared that address its military, optical, and biological aspects individually. Newark (ed., Military Illustrated) has authored the most wide-ranging and accessible survey of this fascinating topic yet. Tied to an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London, the catalog includes five amply illustrated chapters featuring work culled from the museum's collections and many other sources. Newark covers how humans adopted the tactics used by plants and animals to avoid observation, how the practice flourished and matured after the advent of aerial warfare, and how camouflage patterns have recently migrated into new realms such as fashion, interior design, performance and fine art, and architecture. He also describes the earliest tartans as a form of camouflage and shows how the advent of accurate rifles over smoothbore muskets made concealment advantageous. Virtually every page offers compelling photos of and interesting facts about everything from stick insects to stealth bombers. A title for many audiences; highly recommended.
—Douglas F. Smith

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500513477
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 6/11/2007
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Newark was the editor for many years of Military Illustrated, the popular British military history magazine. He is the author of numerous books, including Camouflage, Highlander, The Mafia of War, and has written for the Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph. He lives in London, England.

Jonathan Miller is renowned worldwide for his contributions to theater, opera, and television.

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