Ubiquitous Wearing PART 1 – Camouflage for a Virtual Landscape


Ubiquitous Wearing is one a long term research project we started in 2016.

Triggered by the MARPAT, a pixelated camouflage pattern used by many armed forces, we grew curious to understand the impact that virtual environments will have on our garments and the way that we will make them perform for machines rather then for humans.

We researched and analysed the look, materials and functions of camouflage patterns before we designed four alternative patterns that would not only incorporate a disguising function for enhanced vision systems such as thermo- and nightvision but would reflect on the surroundings and the landscape that influences their pattern: while the well-known woodland pattern takes its inspiration from the bark of a tree, we referenced the surveilling view of a drone using arial images as a starting point.

Each of our developed patterns reacts to a different vision system, and lastly brought us to question wether our aesthetic understanding of the world around us will soon be including factors such as temperature and motion as ingredients for design – enhancing not only our vision but the commonly used properties of colour, material and shape.

In a first iteration, we collated research and pattern-developments in form of a broadsheet publication, while the prints we developed have formed into distinct but still historically referencing materials, but will only come to full expression when viewed with a distinct imaging system:

As we are working on this project, we discover more and more intriguing factors and develop not only the reactive materials further but understand more about the overall impact of the virtual on the everyday and the human perception of others, the self and the machine as a system that will change basic human experiences and evalutaions of our surroundings.

Hence we have decided to stage the project as a

participatory performance that will turn its audience in ‘Surveillor’ or ‘Surveilled’ and will engage with a rather playful though meaningful inquiry: how will human-machine interaction change our perception of the self and the body? Will we start to disguise or will we dress up for machines?

Here are some of the prints developed in response to the research we accumulated and the wearable camouflage techniques that we reflected on. We set up a series of experiments in which we researched and reacted to the difference of machine, enhanced or computer vision:

In the process, a variety of patterns were developed, these are some of the final designs:

The next stage of this project gave us the chance to invite an audience to participate in our experiments and to focus in particular on the virtual environments as influencers on material design disciplines such as print and garment making and to stage the changing interaction of the one being watched and the one watching using the playful approach of the Hide & Seek game.