CAMOUFLAGE & “DAZZLE”

February 23, 2019 at 4:45 am

The John J. Harvey, New York’s most historic fireboat is getting a “dazzling” new look. We’ve got the details.

Aired on February 22, 2019. 

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> NEW YORK'S MOST HISTORIC
FIRE BOAT IS GETTING A DAZZLING
NEW LOOK.
THE JOHN J. HARVEY ENTERED
SERVICE IN 1931, WAS
DECOMMISSIONED IN THE '90s AND
CALL BACK INTO SERVICE AFTER
9/11 TO EXTINGUISH FIRES,
EVALUATE VICTIMS.
THE PUBLIC ART FUND AND THE
BRITISH ARTS ORGANIZATION 1418
NOW ARE PAYING HOMAGE USING ONE
OF WORLD WAR I'S GREATEST
INNOVATIONS, A CAMOUFLAGING
TECHNIQUE KNOWN AS THE DAZZLE.
TAKE A LOOK.
>> 1418 NOW HAS BEEN DAZZLING
VESSELS IN THE UK AND WE THOUGHT
IT WAS REALLY EXCITING AND
APPROPRIATE TO COLLABORATE THEN
TO BRING A DAZZLED VESSEL TO NEW
YORK.
PARTLY BECAUSE THAT KIND OF
GREAT HISTORY OF DAZZLE SHIPS IS
NOT JUST RELEVANT TO THE UK.
WHEN THE U.S. JOINED THE WAR
EFFORT THOUSANDS OF SHIPS WERE
ACTUALLY DAZZLED HERE.
AT THE TIME THAT THE ARTIST
INVENTED THE CONCEPT OF DAZZLE,
I THINK ON AVERAGE THERE WERE
ABOUT EIGHT SHIPS BEING SUNK A
DAY CROSSING THE ATLANTIC.
SO IT DEFINITELY WAS BORN OUT OF
KIND OF A DESPERATION.
IT WAS AN IDEA AROUND
CAMOUFLAGE, BUT AN UNLIKELY
CAMOUFLAGE.
IT WAS INTERSECTING FORMS AND
SHAPES AND COLORS, ALL PAINTED
ON TO SHIPS, TO VESSELS, FROM
CARGO SHIPS TO WAR SHIPS TO
PASSENGER SHIPS AND THE IDEA WAS
THESE KIND OF PATTERNS AND FORMS
AND SHAPES WOULD CONFUSE ANYONE
LOOKING AT THEM.
NAMELY THE GERMAN SUBMARINES.
THEY WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO BE
TARGETED.
MY COLLEAGUE JESSE HAMMERMAN AND
I WE TOOK TO THE SEAS.
I THINK WE RODE EVERY SINGLE
BOAT ON THE EAST RIVER AND THE
HUDSON TO TRY AND FIND THE RIGHT
VESSEL BUT ALSO THE RIGHT
PARTNER.
I WAS REALLY STRUCK BY THE JOHN
J. HARVEY BECAUSE OF ITS VERY
UNIQUE HISTORY.
IT WAS A VESSEL THAT WAS BUILT
IN 1931 AND WAS AN ACTIVE FIRE
BOAT UNTIL THE '90s WHEN IT WAS
DECOMMISSIONED, WAS GOING TO BE
SOLD FOR SCRAP, AND THEN IT WAS
SAVED BY A GROUP OF VOLUNTEERS
AND THEY HAVE BEEN SORT OF
MAINTAINING AND OPERATING IT
SINCE.
IT WAS ACTUALLY CALLED BACK INTO
SERVICE DURING 9/11, IT WENT TO
LOWER MANHATTAN, IT RESCUED
PEOPLE AND THEN PUMPED WATER FOR
80 HOURS WHEN THE MAINS HAD GONE
OUT IN THAT PART OF TOWN.
SO IT ALSO IS THIS KIND OF
ICONIC HERO OF NEW YORK.
IT JUST FELT LIKE A PERFECT
PARTNER FOR US IN TERMS OF THEIR
MISSION AND THEIR ETHOS.
WHEN IT CAME TO THINKING ABOUT
WHO WOULD BE A GREAT ARTIST TO
WORK WITH US TO DAZZLE A
CONTEMPORARY VESSEL IT FELT LIKE
THE TER EFFECT CHOICE TO WORK
WITH TAUBA AUERBACH.
WITH HE COULD CONNECT HER
PRACTICE BACK TO SORT OF EARLY
AVANT GARDE THINKING AROUND KIND
OF PUSHING THE MEDIUM OF PAINT.
SHE'S ALSO VERY PROCESS DRIVEN.
TAUBA WAS STRUCK BY IT IS THIS
VESSEL THAT MOVES THROUGH WATER,
BUT ALSO WATER MOVES THROUGH THE
BODY OF THE VESSEL ITSELF.
THAT KIND OF IDEA OF FLUID
DYNAMICS BECAME SORT OF THE
STARTING POINT FOR TAUBA IN
THINKING ABOUT HER DESIGN.
BELOW SEPARATION IS A AGAIN MEN
NONTHAT HAPPENS IN FLUID
DYNAMICS WHEN YOU RUN AN OBJECT
THROUGH A BODY OF WATER, THE
FLUID WILL MOVE FORWARD AND
BACKWARDS AT THE SAME TIME
CREATING THESE INCREDIBLE
PATTERNS.
SHE CHOSE TO WORK WITH A VERY
LABORIOUS PROCESS OF MARBLING,
USE THAT TO CREATE AN IDEA OF
FLUID DYNAMICS.
MARBLING ESSENTIALLY IS PUTTING
OILS OR PAINTS INTO A LIQUID
BATH AND THEN YOU COMB THROUGH
THEM, SO YOU ARE CREATING
MOVEMENT WITHIN LIQUID AND YOU
TRANSFER THAT PATTERN ON TO
PAPER.
HOW DO YOU TAKE A 2-D IMAGE AND
PUT IT ON TO A 3-D OBJECT?
WE TOOK IT TO CADELL'S TRY DOCK
IN STATEN ISLAND.
FIRST OF ALL, IT HAD TO GO
THROUGH ALL OF ITS NECESSARY
REPAIRS, STRIPPING IT DOWN TO
PREPARING IT FOR US TO BE ABLE
TO DAZZLE IT, CREATING A BLANK
CANVAS.
THEN FOR ABOUT A MONTH WE HAD
THIS GROUP OF SCENE PAINTERS
WORKING THERE, SCENE PAINTERS
BEING KIND OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE
THAT ARE ABLE TO TRANSLATE 2-D
INTO 3-D AND CREATE EFFECTS.
SO IT WAS A COMPANY CALLED
INFINITE SCENIC AND TAUBA WAS
THERE EVERY DAY PAINTING.
TAUBA WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN MAKING
SURE THAT HER DESIGN WAS
ACCURATELY RENDERED.
NO ONE HAD SEEN THE JOHN J.
HARVEY AND THEN IT REEMERGED
WITH THIS KIND OF AMAZING NEW
LOOK.
THEY RADIOED INTO THE CAPTAIN OF
THE JOHN J. HARVEY AND WAS LIKE
WHAT ON EARTH HAS HAPPENED TO
YOUR BOAT?
IT'S BEEN A NICE REACTION FROM
THE COMMUNITY THAT KNOW IT AND
ALSO BRINGING A NEW COMMUNITY
INTO KNOWING ABOUT THE JOHN J.
HARVEY, THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST
WORLD WAR, 1418 NOW, PUBLIC ART
FUND AND OF COURSE TAUBA AS
WELL.
YOU SOMETIMES FORGET THAT WE'RE
ACTUALLY ON AN ISLAND AND WE'RE
SURROUNDED BY THIS HUGE BODY OF
WATER THAT CONNECTS US TO THE
SEA AND NEW YORK IS NEW YORK
BECAUSE WE ARE SURROUNDED BY THE
WATER, KIND OF THE HISTORY OF
ITS SUCCESS VERY MUCH RELIES ON
THIS BODY OF WATER, BUT WE ARE
NOT SO NECESSARILY CONNECTED TO
IT, AND THIS PROJECT KIND OF
CONNECTED US TO THOSE PEOPLE
THAT WORK EVERY DAY AND LIVE AND
SURVIVE OFF OF THIS BODY OF
WATER.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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