Andrea Mubi Brighenti

Andrea Mubi Brighenti (born 1975) is aggregate professor of Social Theory and Space & Culture at the Department of Sociology, University of Trento, Italy. His research topics focus on space, power and society. He is the author of The Ambiguous Multiplicities: Materials, episteme and politics of some cluttered social formations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Visibility in Social Theory and Social Research (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). Andrea serves as the editor of the journals lo Squaderno and Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa.

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.

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