Roy Behrens has created a fascinating site analyzing the relationship between Gestalt psychology, cubism, and camoflage used on ships in World War I.
In recent years, it has been verified that prominent French camoufleurs during World War I were consciously, willingly influenced by cubist methods (“In order to completely dissimulate things,” wrote French artist Lucien Victor Guirand de Scevola, who commanded the first camouflage unit, “I used the same methods the cubists had used to simulate objects” (Kahn 1984, 19).) But the same cannot be said of Gestalt theory and cubism. As Heider concludes, “this tenuous contact [between Gestalt theory and cubism] by way of camouflage does not mean there was an influence in either direction as far as Wertheimer and Picasso were concerned. We have to assume two independent developments reaching a culmination at the same time” (Heider 1973, 71).
During this period, ships were painted with “dazzle camoflage,” which served not to conceal the ship entirely, but to break it into unrecognizable groups of objects, thus making it harder to target. I wonder why dazzle camoflage, apparently quite effective, doesn’t continue to be used. Do CogDaily readers have any ideas?