Camouflage Public Infrastructure Publicity

Camouflage or Masquerade?

When it comes to strategies to disguise ‘unwanted’ objects in public space, the territory is vast. Myriad concepts and techniques, most derived from nature, are employed to mask unsightly public infrastructure; so the topic requires closer inspection.

Camouflage is defined as ‘the use of any combination of materials,
coloration, or illumination for concealment with the intention to
make objects blend into their surroundings’ (wikipedia).
While masquerade is in play when ‘the camouflaged object looks like something else of no special interest to the observer’. Masquerade might involve camouflaging methods, but not necessarily. In the end, the objective is the same – to deceive the observer by hiding the object’s true nature.

In the pictured example, the ventilation shaft serving an underground metrostation masquerades as a publicity column – a ‘peperbus’ in Dutch jargon. The ‘peperbus’ has long been used for advertising public events and announcements; a multidirectional object with maximum surface area for exposure, and usually located at a prominent spot in public space.

Yet, this particular specimen is in an awkward location, above eye level atop a mound, sandwiched between bushes so partly hidden and creating a front- and backside.

Paradoxically, the column is clad in colourful posters that are meant to draw public attention to get a message across. But such publicity has become so established in the public domain that it seems not to stand out anymore, blending as urban decor.

So, camouflage or masquerade in this example? I’d say camouflaged masquerade. To be continued.