Can You See Me


red man black and whiteCamouflage is the art of not being seen

or, Crypsis:

-General Resemblance to the background

-Disruptive patterning

-Eliminating shadow



My initial thoughts on this project were:

That I didn’t want to go too far down the route of replicating patterns, I wanted to focus on using colour to overthrow the form, rather than disruptive patterning.

I liked the idea of hiding bits of me.

I could either blend things of similar colours, or opposites.

I must resist the urge to photoshop everything, as that’s my main initial reaction to this brief.

Using make up



eye and brow

I like the idea of a flag, which has the print of clouds on it. This is a very simple idea but it might be a good place to start, rather than attempting ideas like camouflaging a ceiling, which is more ambitious. I started looking into how to transfer a print of cloud on to a flag,, and got myself some Dylon Image maker paste. I then changed my idea slightly, I still wanted to use image maker paste, but to cover a bikini. I wanted to make the sketch below, a reality. However it’s not particularly ‘extreme’, so I wanted to get this done as soon as possible so I could develop upon it.



I think the reason it’s not very extreme is because not very much is being camouflaged, this might be something to develop on.


This brought me to think about using separate pieces of clothing as camouflage, and created this image in photoshop as an example:



But it seemed a bit basic so I decided to leave it as an initial idea.

After visiting the Hayward gallery, this image taken by one of my peers gave me new ideas.


Perhaps using a single colour would reduce the appearance of form. I have a red camera filter, it might work..

Or I could approach it from a different, more natural angle, for example, a blanket of snow is a form of camouflage. I took the images below as examples of this.

_MG_5548 _MG_5549

_MG_5547 copy

snow blanketing car

I did a brief experiment using graphic T Shirts.
_MG_5570 copyHowever none of these ideas particularly excited me and I was getting very frustrated at the lack of inspiration. So I decided to go back to brainstorming initial ideas and rethought about the whole concept of camouflage. Something is camouflaged because it does not want to be seen, and someone who might need this a lot is a spy or detective. I decided to work towards the idea of creating an outfit which someone could wear to blend in with a brick wall, based on the image of a stereotypical spy or detective.

img229I decided to make some mock ups on photoshop first, so I would have an image was what I was working to create physically.


sketch2sketch3In order to achieve this kind of outcome physically I needed a plan, so I started to break things down.

How was I going to print on to the newspaper? I can either print onto an already existing newspaper. Or I can print my own newspaper. Both ways had their advantages and disadvantages. The first idea seemed do-able because I have easy access to newspapers and wouldn’t involve me finding newsprint or the work of replicating a newspaper. Whilst the second may work better because it means I would not have to worry about ink running and may give me more control of printing and I would gain experience about printing. I could also have it printed for me using such sights as It also meant I would have the option whether to include text or not, which could mean very different outcomes.

I needed to experiment with the angle I was going to print the bricks, whether it was going to be flat onto the paper, or printed so that when it was held the bricks appeared flat. The second option seemed like it would be much harder to create but may offer a much more effective outcome.

I also needed to decide on the wall I was going to use so I could measure it and photograph it. I figured that making sure these small details were right would make my outcome more effective. I wanted to find a quite scummy wall, something that looked a bit dodgy. So I went out and started documenting and comparing them.

brick walls

The wall I decided on using is the last one in the bottom right hand corner. I decided on using the part of the wall next to the lamppost and I thought that maybe I could shoot my project at night, making the figure seem more suspicious as they stood underneath a single lamppost, or the whole shot seem more metaphorically darker.  These are some more detailed shots of the wall.


wallpaper2I also measured parts of the wall.


Soon after I returned to my wall and took photographs of it in the dark. These did not work well at all. My idea for the figure to be under a single light produced by the lamppost was ruined by the light of other nearby lampposts.

_MG_5597The following day I attended a tutorial and my tutor planted a lot of doubt in my mind about how successful this outcome was going to be. He told me how that I was going to do this well I was going to have to be extremely technical about it, and I felt I was in way over my head. So instead of continue to attempt something that I now felt very badly towards I decided to once again, go back to my initial ideas and start again.

With only one week left until the deadline I needed to decide on an idea and act on it, FAST.

I decided to base my idea around the idiom, ‘be part of the furniture’. To create the image of someone sitting in an armchair, wearing clothes made of the same material as the chair.

img231 copy

“If someone or something is part of the furniture they have been there for so long that they seem to be a natural part of that place.”

I would need my armchair or sofa to be comfy, it needed to be something that you could actually sit in for a long time.

In order for it to work I would need a fabric with a distracting pattern, like those used public transport. This would distract attention from the forms. I did some research that particular fabric is called Moquette. Unfortunately getting ahold of these materials can take some time, which I did not have, so I decided to look elsewhere for my fabric. I did quite enjoy reading about moquette thought and maybe this is something I can look into for another project.

Photo 18-02-2013 12 40 49

Photo 18-02-2013 13 01 40

I went hunting in charity shops and found what I was looking for, my chair:

Photo 18-02-2013 14 00 23

And my fabric, an old single duvet sheet:

img227Each as smelly and old as each other.

I quickly started work on sewing the fabric onto the chair by hand, which was very tedious and became very painful on my hands.

By the end of my first afternoon I had reached this stage:

Photo 20-02-2013 10 35 48

But I was beginning to have concerns about running out of material. I needed to find a way of replicating the material in the event that it may happen. I planned for this by devising a plan: scan the material, photoshop it together, make sure it’s the right size, print it, image transfer it to blank or red fabric, or onto the clothes of the person who is going to be photographed.

I also needed to start planning who was going to be sitting in the chair and how I am going to cover them. I felt as if it should be a man, photographed slumped in his chair watching TV. Like a stubborn old man, who could be played by my dad. Or, it could be my brother who would be playing playstation. I thought that this idea way actually work better, and he is skinny so wouldn’t require as much material. As if he had been playing games for so long, that he had become part of the chair. Or the pattern of the chair had rubbed off on him.

So I spent the next few days slaving away, sewing smelly fabric onto my smelly chair. I used one side of the duvet of the chair, leaving a whole in the middle of the back cushion as that part would be covered my brother anyway, and the other side on the t-shirt and bottoms he would be wearing. Unfortunately I did not realise until it was too late, that the design on each side was slightly different.

Photo 20-02-2013 12 11 02

Photo 20-02-2013 12 14 01

Photo 20-02-2013 13 06 05

Photo 20-02-2013 23 02 41

I then staged my photograph, I positioned the chair in the shot so that you could not see many other pieces of furniture in the room, in case it very obviously stood out. I got my brother to sit in the chair in the clothes, wearing his gaming headset, with the controls, sitting as if he were playing a game.

potential final scaledI made the room dark, lit only by the light of the television he was positioned in front of. It is staged to suggest that he began playing the game when it was daytime, only to become in engrossed in the game that he has not realised it is now the early hours of the morning. That he has been playing it for so long that his eye have become used to straining to look at the screen, instead of realising he needs to turn a light on. It also suggests that he is so engrossed that he is unaware that he’s wearing these ridiculous clothes, or becoming part of the sofa.

No photoshopping was done on the material, only to darken the background. I created an alternate image with the background darkened out further, removing all of the surrounding furniture form the image. However I feel the lighter image worked better and was more subtle.

potential final blacked outMy initial thoughts towards this project were that I needed to create an image where the camouflaged subject was hard to spot. However with this piece the focus of the image is the camouflaged subject, which is something that I had never even thought about, but I feel worked well.

Leave a Reply


Skip to toolbar