Once we understand camouflage as a fully vital phenomenon that cannot be reduced to a strategic-tactical game among antagonists, we can appreciate how the camouflaging animal (or human) enacts a liminal space.
Usually, camouflage is interpreted within the frame of deceitful communication. Scholars have mainly provided accounts of camouflage based on strategic-tactical sign emissions within the frame of ecological competition. The dominant key is one of antagonism and belligerence, whereby camouflage and camouflage detection are described as a ‘semiotic arms race’. These views are grounded in a utilitarian means/ends scheme of either strategic or tactical nature. By contrast, in this piece, I invite to conceptualise camouflage as the temptation of relation. Approaching camouflage as a specifically social temptation suggests regarding it as something that inherently exists beyond the functional domain. Three illustrations from the art world of photography are provided: Leo Selvaggio’s URME Surveillance Project, Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s Continental Divide, and Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 5.