Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Camouflage Poster | Melanie Walde
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 Melanie Walde. Copyright © 2012 by the designer. All rights reserved.
Anon, “Jazz and Dazzle” in The Independent. May 3, 1919, p. 160—
What we are coming to in the way of costume was indicated by the Dazzle Ball given by the Chelsea Arts Club at Albert Hall, London. Four British naval officers, distinguished for their success at camouflage, had charge of designing the dresses, and the ballroom looked like the Grand Fleet with all its warpaint on ready for action. The jazz bands produced sounds that have the same effect upon the ear as this "disruptive coloration" has upon the eye.
Who would have thought a dozen years ago, when the secessionists began to secede and the cubists to cube, that soon all governments would be subsidizing this new form of art to the extent of millions a year? People laughed at them in those days, said they were crazy and were wasting their time, but as soon as the submarines got into action, the country called for the man who could make a dreadnought look like [Marcel Duchamp’s painting] A Nude Descending a Staircase. They dipped into the future far as the human eye could see—and then some. They converted sober freighters into objects that were exempt from the proscription of the Second Commandment. The submerged Hun with his eye glued to the periscope could not tell whether it was a battleship or a post-impressionist picture bearing down upon him. So he fired his torpedo at random and generally hit it.
The term "camouflage," now a part of all languages, originated in the French greenroom where it was applied to the actor’s make-up. Now, after its brief discursion into the army and navy, it is demobilized and returns to the toilet. But in its new and dazzling guise it may cause collisions in the ballroom as it did on the sea. In these days when dancers do the one-step, two-step, three-step and on up to eight-step simultaneously to the same tune, it is becoming difficult to keep the necessary leeway and seaway. When a ship or a woman is disguised by dazzle decoration one is likely to be more than fifteen points off in judging her course.