2:00 p.m. Sunday, May 21, 2017
"HOW CAMOUFLAGE WORKS: The Dazzling Past and Future of Natural and Military Camouflage”

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The Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center/Betty Strong Encounter Center will present “HOW CAMOUFLAGE WORKS: The Dazzling Past and Future of Natural and Military Camouflage” with Roy R. Behrens at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 21. Admission is free; a reception will follow.

Behrens is Professor of Art and Distinguished Scholar at University of Northern Iowa. His
¬†richly illustrated program will mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I when the Allies adopted a new system of ship camouflage in which ships were painted in colorful abstract crazy-quilt schemes.

Using surprising examples of camouflage in nature, combined with rare vintage photographs of military camouflage, Behrens will show how today’s understanding of camouflage began with experiments by artists, architects and theatre set designers. He will share some of the finest film footage of on-going research and the future of camouflage technology.

During WWI, when it was known variously as “dazzle camouflage” or “razzle dazzle,” the new system of ship camouflage threw off targeting efforts of German U-boat commanders who aimed their torpedoes through periscopes from distant submerged submarines, says Behrens.

¬†“At the time, journalists described these ships as ‘cubist paintings on a colossal scale,’ ‘a futurist’s bad dream,’ ‘a floating art museum,’ and ‘a flock of sea-going Easter eggs,’” Behrens says. “The bizarre appearance of these ships resulted in a nationwide frenzy of interest in camouflage that may be equaled only now when camouflage is everywhere.”

The last years of the war brought a profusion of dazzle camouflage costume balls, civilian boats and vehicles painted in dizzying black-and-white stripes, and scandalous camouflage bathing suits.

Behrens has published books and articles on art and camouflage since the 1970s. Among his recently published books are: “Ship Shape: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook” (2011); and “Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie” (2016).

Behrens often has appeared in interviews on radio; television; in educational films, including NOVA on PBS; and in the recently broadcast Australian documentary, “Deception by Design: The Hidden Story of Camouflage” (2015).

Behrens’ blog on camouflage has been called “the most important online resource for anyone interested in the subject.”