Above One of ninety posters designed by graphic design students at the University of Northern Iowa, to advertise an upcoming talk on WWI ship camouflage by RISD scholar Claudia Covert. This is one of three posters designed by Cassie Onnen. Copyright © 2012 by the designer. All rights reserved.
E.S., “Impressions of the Fifth Year” in The Atlantic Monthly. December 1918, p. 808—
[WWI ship camouflage] is so incredible to rational thinking that even its remoter manifestations seem grotesque. One thinks of it as of a prodigious joke, in which the world conspires to conduct the neophyte through some solemn farce of preposterous initiation. To the summer tourist, what could be more unreal than the ostentatious secrecy of sailing, the ships painted in whorls or cubes or checkers, as a child would paint his Noah’s Ark or a vorticist his exhibition canvas; the cruisers, destroyers, balloons, and hydroplanes enveloping the convoy; the passengers, with life-preservers on their shoulders, looking for all the world like stage figures in some masque of Pilgrim’s Progress; and at night the blackened ports and the secret flashings from bridge to bridge, as if the ships were winking at each other in enjoyment of some monumental humbug? Gradually the sense of illusion weakens. The decks, crowded with khaki, moving bands of gray-green topping the camouflage of the ship’s side, grow very real.