Wednesday, January 13, 2021

when father mangles celery with unctuous enthusiasm

Above A vintage photograph (source unknown) of a highly unusual example of ship camouflage during World War I in which the shape of the vessel has been made confusing by applying warped perspective shapes to the bow, while also attaching triangular forms to the masts, smoke stack, and upper deck surfaces, as a means of distorting the ship’s silhouette.

Note Since this was initially posted, we have been told by Aryeh Wetherhorn that this is a photograph of a Russian patrol boat, the Kondor, in the Baltic Sea.

•••

Everett L Warner, in Summary of Points to be Made in First Part of General Lecture on Marine Camouflage, unpublished typescript (n.d.)—

[The] British called [the] ultimate type [of WWI ship camouflage] “dazzle painting,” and this name, which we also used, was in itself a source of misunderstanding. [There was an] effort in [the US] Navy Department to find [a] more descriptive name, and to differentiate [the] American system from its British prototype. Suggestions [were] invited. Three days leave [was] offered [as a reward, but] no one secured it. One man suggested “jazz painting,” [and] I have always thought that this name summed up accurately the popular idea.

•••

FLORIBEL’S FLAPPERGRAMS in The Lafayette Journal and Courier (Lafayette IN), May 17, 1923— 

Floribel says: That jazz record on the fireside phonograph is mighty fittin’ at times. Put it on, say, when father mangles celery with unctuous enthusiasm or when he swiffles soup or swings a wicked saucer. A full-tone needle and enough jazz may help distract the awe-stricken dinner guests in the celery crisis. That same jazz may drown out the midnight racket of those dropped shoes in the parental bedroom upstairs. Any girl will tell you that when the “date” is a likely one, and a bit skittish, ‘most any household camouflage is justified, even jazz. At that, the average jazz record is no worse than the Teething-Baby Blues.

Note There are no full-color photographs of WWI ship camouflage. The original of the black and white image above has been digitally “colorized” using AI software. While its light / dark values are accurate, the choice and location of colors, even when plausible, may not be literally correct.

RELATED LINKS

Optical science meets visual art 

Disruption versus dazzle 

Chicanery and conspicuousness 

Under the big top at Sims' circus

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WWI ship camouflage models in exhibition in Illinois



Above
and below are a few of the crisp new renderings of WWI dazzle camouflage patterns that are being recreated by Steve Morris, a designer based in Washington DC. We have blogged about his work before.

••• 

CAMOUFLAGE MODELS PUT ON EXHIBITION HERE TODAY in Daily Illini (Champaign-Urbana IL), April 18, 1918, p. 1—

Work of Famous Camoufleur Will Be Shown In University Hall 

William [Andrew] Mackay, camoufleur for the second district of the United States Shipping Board of New York, has sent a number of camouflage models for painting ships to Earl C . Bradbury of the department of art and design.

These models will be on exhibition in 401 University Hall today and tomorrow, from 9:00 to 12 o'clock and from 1:00 to 3:00 o'clock. 

“Camouflage is becoming more and more a factor in submarine warfare,” said Mr. Bradbury yesterday. “The ships which operate in the zone are being painted to reduce their visibility. We cannot hope to make them entirely invisible, but if their visibility can be reduced one-half an enormous saving in ships would result.”

“Marine camouflage was used in a small way in the Civil War when merchant ships were painted black like warships, with the representation of port holes in white. Today we have far outclassed that method.”

Parts of Ship Are Merged 

“The present basic theory in ship camouflagp is the merging of the hull and the upper works with the sea and sky. There are two methods of doing this, the low visibility and the dazzle system. A ship painted battleship gray is less visible than one painted black or white. However the breaking up of the object Into several smaller objects makes it less visible; just as a solid rank of men is more conspicuous than a rank scattered. So a chopny effect of painting the ship seems to suggest sky or sea between the several parts , and thus lowers the chances of the ship being seen.“

“As to the dazzle system which was originated by camoufleur Mackay,” continued Mr. Bradbury, “sunlight is composed of the rays of various colors as illustrated in the rainbow; an object painted in these pure colors would give a suggestion of the light of day which is shut out behind the object. Mr. Mackay found on applying this theory to ship painting that the pure colors blended into the ocean mists at several miles distance, and thus made [peri]scope focusing very difficult.”


RELATED LINKS

Optical science meets visual art 

Disruption versus dazzle 

Chicanery and conspicuousness 

Under the big top at Sims' circus

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Alice in Wonderland meets the Wizard of Oz in 1918

WWI US government photograph (AI colorized)
Edwin Carty Ranck, SERVICE OF SUPPLY IN FRANCE AND WHAT IT MEANS TO SAMMY WHO IS BATTLING “OVER THERE” in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York), June 30, 1918, p. 2—

At the camouflage camp, which is, by the way, one of the most interesting spots in France, I was shown around by one of the youngest majors in the American Army… One could easily spend a week there, so fascinating is this work.…

I saw many camouflage mounds and hills that would deceive the naked eye at a distance of even twenty-five feet. And there was a weirdly camouflaged automobile that excited the laughter of the men who had camouflaged it, because it was so outrageously absurd. They were trying it as an experiment to see if it wouldn’t be a good vehicle for use at the front.

“Doesn’t it look like it might serve as a crazy wagon for Fred Stone to ride during a performance of The Wizard of Oz or some other fantastic show?” asked my guide.

“Yes, it makes me think of Alice in Wonderland,” I replied. And everything around me made me think of Alice in Wonderland. It was a bizarre, artificial world that lay around me…

Illustration that accompanied article (1918)