“Special Works School” takes its title from a codename used by the British War Office between 1917 and 1919. The original moniker denoted a military unit of artists—painters, textile artists, scenographers, designers, sculptors, and scenic painters—employed to develop camouflage technology. Instead of rendering their surroundings with utmost accuracy, the artists in the Special Works School were charged with making things disappear.
“Special Works School” transforms Gallery TPW into the speculative workshop of a surveillance artist. Throughout the gallery, objects and experiments stage the problems and possibilities of camouflage, and the accompanying video delves into its multi-sensory potential through an operatic, polyphonic exchange.
Through this new body of work, Bambitchell asks: what is the sound, feel, and smell of surveillance? What does an aesthetic approach to surveillance render visible or, indeed, invisible? Framing surveillance as an aesthetic practice, “Special Works School” hones in on its psychic, material, and embodied dimensions, working from the positions of both surveillor and surveilled.