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dazzle circle

Research centre
Art and Design Research Centre 


A collaborative research project with Matthew Harrison (and others), which addresses the relation between surface, form and affect: exploring how the decorative has agency; what it might mean to blind an audience through surface and glamour; how the nature of an object can be transformed through the manipulation of surface.

The first stage of the research examined how the Dazzle camouflage of World War II was conceived through experimental and speculative interdisciplinary collaborations and how this working framework might suggest methods for contemporary artists/researchers. Through collaboration between artists and Naval architects Dazzle defied all camouflage convention, functioning by making the ship more visible to the observer. A team of artists was tasked to create the most effective range of ‘dazzling’ patterns, unique to each vessel. The motifs transformed the ships’ surfaces to confuse the enemy. The development of Dazzle camouflage provides important insights into experimental working methods between artists and scientists. The framework in which it was created informs an ethos of practice and demonstrates the productive potential for interdisciplinary collaborations of speculative enquiry.

A symposium was held at the Centre for Creative Collaboration in London, June 2012. Speakers included Professor John W. Phillips, writer and academic (University of Singapore), Sean Cummings, artist and course leader at Nottingham Trent University, Harriet Davies, PhD student,SHU, Juneau Projects, artists, and Nayan Kulkarni, artist.

The research has led to the production of a painting device/ tool, made in response to studio visits. This tool is being used to as part of a dialogue with a graphic designer/ typographer to construct a font, which will be disseminated through posters and paintings.

Researchers involved

Gary Simmonds - Senior Lecturer and Course Leader in Creative Art Practice

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