Tauba Auerbach Transformed A Fireboat John J. Harvey Into A Contemporary "Dazzle Ship."
2018 marks one hundred years since the end of World War I. Flow Separation artfully threads together notions of innovation, technology, and abstraction, while it also invites us to remember this devastating world war. Flow Separation is a commission by New York-based artist Tauba Auerbach (b. 1981, San Francisco, California), which transforms the historic Fireboat John J. Harvey into a contemporary "dazzle ship." Invented by British painter Norman Wilkinson during World War I, the original dazzle patterns were painted onto ships to optically distort their forms, confusing enemy submarines tracking their distance, direction, and speed. With their geometric shapes, the dazzle designs were heavily indebted to both animal camouflage and avant-garde movements like Cubism, Futurism, and Vorticism. Thousands of vessels were dazzled in the U.K. and U.S., including in New York City at the Brooklyn Navy Yards.