[Image: So good you can’t see it: a hunter wearing a Ghillie suit].
For some reason I found myself looking at Ghillie Suits last week, and I couldn’t resist writing a post about them.
Manufactured under the tagline “It’s what they don’t see that’s important!” Ghillie suits are made for paintball – but they are an amazing example of fashion design and landscape simulation together in one. Less a style of dress, they use garments to represent – and thus blend into – the earth’s surface.
[Images: Two more examples of Ghillie suits – the visual effect of the suits are somewhat undercut by the model’s posture].
You might say that these suits are mobile, replicant earths – minor terrains on the move – a statement seemingly backed up by the incredible “HUMUS® Cover Scent,” marketed by the same firm. HUMUS® is an “oil based product that gives off the smell of decaying leaves and allows you to smell like a part of the forest.”
I’m embarrassed to admit this, because it now seems obvious, but I had never actually thought of hunting as a local repertoire of earth-replication techniques, techniques through which you can become as much like the surface of the earth as possible. This then distracts and fools other organisms – and allows you to step in for the kill.
Looked at this way, hunting becomes a kind of planetary pas de deux – which is just a pretentious way of saying that if you act like the planet, you can kill that which lives upon it most efficiently.
Or, to put it one other way, well-camouflaged hunters are masterful practitioners of the landscape arts – but their contributions to any potential conversation about landscape design have been overlooked for ideological reasons (i.e. they’re hunters, not academics, and never the twain shall meet).
[Image: This suit apparently only weights 2.25 lbs. Photo courtesy of Ghillie Suits].
Whatever you might think of wildlife slaughter, though, how unbelievably interesting would it be to get Ghillie suit designers, deep wilderness hunters, and some landscape theorists together for a long afternoon of spatialized discussions. Throw in some anthropologists studying hunter-gatherer tribes and maybe some military camouflage field testers – and, at the very least, you’ve got yourself an interesting book proposal.
After all, what Deleuze has to say about landscape is meant to be interesting; but what about the guys who run Ghillie Suits? Or the editors of King’s Outdoor World or Predator Xtreme? Invite them to your next landscape architecture conference.
In any case, the instructions for how to build your own Ghillie suit are an amazing, if unintentional, act of sartorial landscape criticism, turning clothing into hyper-accurate representations of the local plantlife.
Finally, for a few more images don’t miss the Ghillie suit product slideshow.
(Related: Urban Camouflage).