Crypsis – Digital Fabrication

St. Petersburg, FL

Mimetic camouflage and disruptive camouflage are two types of cryptic camouflage patterns. Crypsis, via disruptive camouflage and mimetic qualities, is the generative force behind the attempt to capture the ephemeral qualities and memories of organic shadows – as created through foliage and tree canopies. Disruptive camouflage in nature, and most recently in military defense tactics, aims to break up the shape and outline of a body in order to confuse a prey or enemy’s detection and recognition time. Can disruptive camouflage be interpolated in the shadow form via its inverse use?

To create these atmospheres, we designed and fabricated a full-scale light modulator from ¼” thick, white plexiglass panels that were then perforated by an automated router. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s Licht-Raum-Modulator was called to mind during this process. In order for the perforations to foster optical phenomenons, in the same vein of the Licht-Raum-Modulator, we removed the act of selective pattern making and relied on scripting the perforations through an analog that would best mimic the ephemeral qualities of light and shadow found in nature, such as foliage.

Could this analog be found in the inverse use of camouflage such as MARPAT (short for MARine PATtern), a pixilated camouflage pattern in use by the United States Marine Corps? MARPAT is formed by a number of small rectangular pixels of color. In theory, it is far more effective to computer render complex patterns by utilizing squares (pixels), rather than macropatterns found in Monocolor or NATO camouflage (big blobs).

The perforated script became the inverse of camouflage; thus its role was not to hide, but to ultimately mimic its context in the form of its outward characteristics, i.e. shadow. Similar to Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s series of light machines, our light modulator was used to arrive at countless optical conclusions when the Artemide, Metaponto Iluminaire was projected onto it and its shadows of split and mixed light were then cast on a white scrim. The scrim was used in substitution of Artemide’s frosted storefront window.

It is the unknowns that we were after – the surprises in color juxtaposition – homage to Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Color Theory which emphasizes the perceived phenomena of color and its qualities over analytical measurement. Our light modulator fostered the opportunity for light and color phenomenons to change its surrounding space into a virtual playground for the observing eye.