Perceiving Chameleons
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cloak of invisibility

How to Cite

Bayer, Martin. 2016. “Perceiving Chameleons”. Membrana – Journal of Photography, Theory and Visual Culture 1 (1):66–69.


For centuries, military uniforms had been colourful to differentiate friend from foe on the battlefield, but also as a distinguishing feature towards civil society. With technological progress and the advent of both aviation and improved photography a century ago, camouflage became a necessity. Artists and zoologists played a huge role in developing camouflage patterns. Today, most nations have a distinct national camouflage, and often, specific services or special forces have their very own uniforms as a sign of distinction. Nevertheless, many patterns can be traced back to the 1930s and 1940s. While fooling an observer is at the heart of military camouflage, it remains to be ambivalent, with its roles ranging from a desired cloak of invisibility to an indicator of power and prowess. In the past decades, camouflage has become synonymous with the military, and simultaneously, a global icon on its own, a political statement and an aspect of fashion.
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