Artists Gibson/Martelli re-imagine 'dazzle' camouflage as tribal markings for invisible performers, moving within an 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.


 MAN A  from  Gibson/Martelli  on  Vimeo 

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.

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. Ruth Gibson & Bruno Martelli's practice examines figure & landscape and the relationship between natural and the artificial, transposing sites to create ambiguous topographies. Based in London, Martelli graduated from  Central St Martins , Gibson graduated from  University of Kent at Canterbury . They create environments, installations and performances using a wide variety of media including print, video and computer games. Their  first work  together won them a  BAFTA  nomination and their projects have featured in numerous exhibitions and festivals world-wide 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 were recently Artists in Residence at CAFKA/CHRISTIE in Kitchener/Waterloo, Canada working with a CAVE virtual reality system & Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset to make a new work for the  CAFKA 14 Biennial 

More info about the artists: 

Get the free App for Apple & Android devices.
(note: Requires Android 2.3.1 Gingerbread and up,).

App Store Button

(note: Requires iOs7.1 and up).

Download the VR app  here . This app is a Virtual Reality version of MAN A, it runs on Android and requires the Google Cardboard VR headset to view. The artists created their own version of Google Cardboard, but the app works with any cardboard headset. Learn more  here 

 Tap here  to see the AR markers. Right click on Laptop or Tap/Hold on mobile to save the marker, then print it out, then run the App and point device at the marker to reveal the characters.

How to use the App - if you are at the exhibition run the App, point your device at the patterns to reveal the hidden characters. If you can't get to the exhibition, download the markers from this site.

Edition 5

Edition 2


Edition 3


Edition 4


Right Click to save the images above - they are pdf's. Print them out and fold into shape.

Concept & Design: Gibson/Martelli
Performers: Nicola Gibbons, Ruth Gibson, Siobhan O'Neil, Robert Davidson, Eszter Gal, Bettina Neuhaus, Joe Moran, Florence Peake, Julie Nathanielsz.
Printing: Omni
Special Thanks to: Ian William Gouldstone, Alex Woolner & Dan McCormick for programming support and Jon Meyer for application support.

Edition 6:
20 May - 21 June  POLITICS OF AMNESIA II  Cafe Gallery London

Edition 5:
17 Jan - 28 March 2015  UNION Gallery  London. Supported by Arts Council England.

Edition 4: 
14 Sept 2014 - 4 Jan 2015  Archive Fever!  Clay & Glass Museum, Waterloo, Canada. Curated by Krista Blake.

Edition 3:
25 October 2014 - 30 August 201  'Digital Revolution'    Tekniska Museet  Stockholm.
3 July - 14 Sept 2014,  'Digital Revolution'  Barbican, London, UK. Commissioned by the Barbican for 'Digital Revolution'.

Edition 2:
10 - 13 June 2014, 'You/Me/It', Institut Jozef Stefan, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Sponsored as a part of Contact Forum by the PROSECCO network & supported by Goldsmiths for the ICCC Fifth International Conference on Computational Creativity.

Edition 1:
6 Jan- 1 Mar 2014, 'Festival of Imagination', Selfridges, London, UK. Developed through a Selfridges Commission & an AHRC Fellowship Award.