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Hide and Seek - Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance


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"Hanna Rose Shell's Hide and Seek stands apart from other recent writings on the significance of camouflage; at the same time, her book blends in seamlessly. While partly a book about military camouflage in relation to reconnaissance photography and film, it encompasses far, far more than that. Replete with surprising connections, it stands apart because of the author's unerring research, engaging prose, and the thoughtfulness and originality of her conclusions." -- Roy B. Behrens, author of False Colors: Art Design and Modern Camouflage, and Camoupedia; contributer to DPM: An Encyclopedia of Camouflage "Hanna Rose Shell's Hide and Seek: Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance is a highly original and imaginative piece of scholarship, written economically and compellingly. Drawing on evidence from the history of science, military history, art history, and the histories of photography and cinema, Shell gives us a developmental narrative and theoretical formulation of camouflage between the mid-nineteenth century and the present." -- Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley "Funny, poetic, and scary by turns, Hide and Seek asserts it is not human vision that camouflage seeks to trick, but the gaze of the camera. The skin of emulsions, no less than the hides of humans and beasts, is ground for trickery and revelation in this remarkable book." -- Caroline A. Jones, Professor of Art History and Director of the History, Theory, and Criticism Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "Vital conversations on the meaning of the gaze have dominated the past quarter century and more in visual culture studies. Now, shifting our focus from being to not being seen, Hanna Rose Shell newly formulates and explicates a history of efforts in camouflage from the military in World War I to video artists in the presents, and reveals a deep human desire to disappear. No reader will forget Hide and Seek's genealogy of the 'chameleonic impulse,' the longing both to construct and to project a worldly skin that makes one functionally invisible. Beautifully written, brilliantly argued, and vividly illustrated, Hide and Seek is a paradigm-altering book, and the anatomy of a new kind of consciousness." -- Laura Wexler, Professor of American Studies and Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Director of the Photographic Memory Workshop, Yale University

About the Author

Hanna Rose Shell is the Leo Marx Career Development Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.


There is much to enjoy in all four chapters and without doubt this book, detailing interrelationships of technological advances in photography and film and developments in camouflage media and camouflage consciousness, will live into the future as readers scrutinise it, evaluate it and take its useful and imaginative store of ideas in additional directions.

-Ann Elias, History of Photography

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