Friday, 20 November 2015

razzle dazzle

The War To End All Wars was in full swing a century ago.  The fact that war is now over is being commemorated by a series of art commissions, or rather Art Commissions.  The Tower of London poppies were a great way of remembering each life Commonwealth life lost (although that was of course only half of the story).  The poppy displays currently in Yorkshire are pretty amazing too.

On the Thames lies HMS President, a floating jewel in the heart of the capital (according to its website).  Built at the tail end of The War to End All Wars as HMS Saxifrage she has been dazzled by German artist Tobias Rehberger.  Take a closer look.

So, what the heck is dazzle painting?  Over to the HMS President website:
The theory of dazzle painting was first introduced in 1914 by the scientist John Graham Kerr to then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, with the intention of adopting disruptive camouflage which was initially called ‘parti-colouring’. The idea was not to ‘hide’ the ships, but to paint them in such a way that their appearance was optically distorted, so that it was difficult for a submarine to calculate the course the ship was travelling on, and to know from what angle to attack. The ‘dazzle’ effect was achieved by painting the ship in contrasting stripes and curves that broke up its shape and outline.

There's a couple more dazzle ships in Liverpool, including the Snowdrop, a Mersey Ferry bedazzled by Sir Peter Blake.  He has gone for a very '60s dazzle while Rehberger's is more of a modernist take on the WWI look.

I suggest that when you've finished looking at my pictures here you do some searches for HMS President and Tobias Rehberger, Snowdrop and Peter Blake, Edmund Gardner and Carlos Cruz-Diez.  You'll have hours of fun and maybe learn something.

Two things. 
  1. art has escaped from the gallery and that can only be good
  2. the War to End All Wars didn't end all wars.  In fact you could reasonably argue that the War to End All Wars was a major cause of the Second World War. This is what we should be remembering. 


 moral equivalence 

A century of conflict has surely taught us that you can't put your point across by bombing the bejabbers out of the enemy.  You can't win hearts and minds when you show the same lack of respect for life as your enemy does.

This is about the art.  And the duck.  

And the dazzle ship. Great work Tobias.

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