++PRESS RELEASE++ MAN A: Selfridges Commission for ‘Festival of the Imagination’ by Gibson / Martelli


Artists  Gibson/Martelli  re-imagine ‘dazzle’ camouflage as tribal markings for invisible performers, moving within a window installation activated by a special App.
‘MAN A’ takes as its starting point the relationship between man & his environment, exploring the use of camouflage, warpaint & tattoos – seen through the prism of neo-tribalism. The subject is hidden in plain sight, the pattern used to confound the eye rather than conceal, to give power to the wearer rather than diminish them.
During WWI artist Norman Wilkinson invented a type of ship camouflage consisting of complex intersecting geometric patterning designed to confuse the enemy. Dazzle camouflage & machine readable markers (Barcodes, Augmented Reality, QR codes) are two opposing ways in which information can be encoded on a surface, one used in wartime for concealment, the other in peacetime as a tracking marker or bearer of information.
Human brains are hardwired to recognise human figures in a landscape – a remnant of our hunter-gatherer ancestry – where movement could constitute a threat to survival. This installation plays with these perceptions, concealing figures so that they are only visible to the viewer by means of technology.
Commissioned by Selfridges for ‘Festival of the Imagination’ & developed through an AHRC Fellowship Award at Coventry University’s School of Art & Design.
The installation can be seen in the Selfridges Department store window on Oxford Street from Jan 9th until end Feb 2014.
The free app can be downloaded by following the link here:

Notes for editors:


Unlike regular camouflage Dazzle was designed not to conceal but to confuse a targets direction & speed, making the ship difficult to hit. Each ship had a unique pattern to disrupt both the ship class recognition & also fool gunnery rangefinders which work on an optical coincidence principle where images from two lenses have to line up. Inspired by giraffe & zebra skin -which is particularly difficult to spot when moving in nature, the Vorticist artist Edward Wadsworth supervised the camouflage of over two thousand warships.

Dazzle’s moral boosting powers are totemic in a similar fashion to the warpaint & tribal tattoos which primitive tribes apply to their bodies. These are believed to give the wearer special protection, social status or to make them more appealing to the opposite sex. Many different tribes from the American First Nation to the New Zealand Maori use geometric body markings. More recently makeup inspired by Dazzle has been developed to confuse facial recognition software. 2014 is the centenary of WWI.
Mana is an indigenous Pacific Island concept of an impersonal force or quality that resides in people, animals, & inanimate objects. There is no word for Mana in the English language as it is not easily translated into a single definition. Mana is a sense of place & person, a power, a spirituality, a force of nature. In Polynesian cultures mana is obtained through birth or warfare. Modern fantasy fiction, computer & role-playing games have adopted mana as a term for magic points, an expendable (& most often rechargeable) resource out of which magic users form their magical spells. Concepts analogous to mana in various other cultures include the power of magic, sympathetic magic & of seeking the intervention of a specific supernatural being, whether deity, saint or deceased ancestor.

Based in London Gibson/Martelli work together as igloo. Their practice examines figure & landscape & the relationship between natural & the artificial, transposing sites to create ambiguous topographies. They create environments, installations & performances using a wide variety of media including print video, & computer games. Their first work together won them a BAFTA nomination & their projects have featured in numerous exhibitions & festivals worldwide including the 52nd Venice Biennale.
The artists create computer generated environments often populated by moving figures. In recent works the locus of the performance has shifted from dancer to visitor, their aim is to provoke new relationships between visitor & artwork, figures in new landscapes. The artists research led them to Australia & New Zealand where they spent time on residency working with optical motion capture, the moving body & AR. These technological experiences aligned with exposure to the art & history of ancient Aboriginal & Maori cultures fuelled their imaginations & re-established their interest in identification & surveillance exploring themes of concealment in relationship to man & his environment. Gibson is a Senior Research Fellow at Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research exploring avatar and environment design with Martelli in relation to their motion capture and computer visualisation practice.
The performers in MAN A are experienced Skinner Releasing Technique dancers. The technique has at its core, the premise that everyone is endowed with a natural, primal grace, an animal like grace, releasing connects to that grace and the dance of life.

The duo are currently making a game for  LA Game Space  and are Artists in Residence at CAFKA/CHRISTIE in Kitchener/Waterloo, Canada working with a CAVE virtual reality system & Oculus Rift Virtual Reality goggles to make a new work for the  CAFKA 14 Biennial 
More info about the artists:  www.igloo.org.uk 

JAN 9th 2014

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