Artist's amazing self-camouflage

 Images Blog 2009 11 Gh4
 Images Blog 2009 11 Gh2  Images Blog 2009 11 Gh10
Above is the mindbending work of camouflage artist Liu Bolin. More images over at Hi-Fructose!



  1. This cool, but the only downfall is that it only works from the perspective of the image.
    This effect can be done with two shots and some photoshop work in a few min.
    but nontheless actually doing it is a lot of work, blog worth, meh. if this artist comes up with a freakin harry potter invisibility cloak, please blog about it.

    1. i think the point is that he didn’t use photoshop – that he painted his body to match… there’s the artistry. cheap photoshop tricks are for hacks

      1. no cheap photoshop tricks get the job and finished quick and easy, don’t you think this “artist” used photoshop to plan out the painted areas he needed? It’s just how it works.

    2. An incredible piece of art isn’t that impressive because it would be possible to create a similar image in Photoshop? You must be a lot of fun on a gallery tour.

    3. Do you complain that Picasso’s paintings wouldn’t have been so blocky if he just been standing 3 feet to the left?

      I was going to call you a Captain Curmudgeon, but Brainspore already beat me to the punch.

  2. I saw some of his work in the Metro last year I think, in a similar “look at him, isn’t that kooky” article.

    I’d be surprised if this guy wasn’t censored in China though. The whole message I’m getting from it is the invisibility of the people in the face of the uncompromising state.

    He’s painted entire families in red to fade in with the background of the Chinese flag. He stands invisible in front of symbols of power and slogans.

    I like it.

  3. What is with the superlatives that get thrown about on BoingBoing?! It’s the worst thing ever and it makes me sick!
    Mindbending? How about ‘kinda neat and amusing’?

  4. That’s how reptile hides in Mortal Kombat (1995) – or how the Leap of Faith works in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  5. Eh. I feel that single angle concealment of this type really shouldn’t be be refered to as camouflage.

    True camouflage exists for the purpose of providing the greatest general concealment in the greatest number of terrains and from the greatest number of vantage points. The trouble is, the average person doesn’t find real camouflage nearly as interesting as these clever little camera tricks because they fail to appreciate the sheer intricacies of modern camouflage design.

    Of course, in my opinion the most impressive forms of camouflage are not physical, but psychological. Hiding in plain site, exploiting people’s assumptions, and even blending in non-visual ways are all underappreciated artforms that blow the most advanced camouflague and concealment tricks out of the water.

    ~D. Walker

    1. Ahhh that Pescovitz fellow. Knew him back in Burma… Splendid chap but alas his mind was easily bent.

  6. Some of these bb blogs are worth just a snicker, but aren’t worth commenting on. This might be one of them. Let’s all agree to say wow neato and move on.

    1. Um….so why did you comment? Are you just trying to be meta? And so commanding, to boot.

      Actually, I’d really like to know. If I find something so uninteresting, I usually just move on and stop thinking about it.

  7. see Verushka, an German artist who did this in the mid-70s, including an incredible piece where her head is part of a pile of stones. her stuff was mind-bending then. this is cool, but really pretty derivative…

    1. Interesting you should cite Veruschka as the ‘artist’ rather than Trulzsch . It’s possible the idea was hers, but obviously she didn’t take the photos herself, and probably didn’t apply the ‘camouflage’either.

      Back in the seventies the idea that a photographer could be an ‘artist’ at all wasn’t universally accepted. Or that a supermodel could be for that matter.

      Back to Liu Bolin; if the main photo were the result of him going to a building site by himself with a camera, tripod, electronic shutter release, paints and makeup, (+ a big mirror?) then that really would be mindbending.

      I’d guess he’s had an idea which sells well in galleries in the form of large colour prints, said idea probably entirely independently of the Trusch/Veruschka book, and several other people are involved in realising it.

      Not trying to detract from anything here, but quite often what impresses people about artists’ or say film directors’ work is in fact the work of technicians, and what the artist thinks is interesting is something totally different.

  8. Forget all the posturing on how impressive it is, how do you even do that? How do you accurately paint yourself into a complex, multi-dimensional scene from a point of perspective some 20 feet away from where you’re standing?

  9. Don’t worry. This guy lives and hunts by a strict ethical code. As long as you’re not perceived as being dangerous or a worthy trophy, or unarmed, he won’t hurt you. But be warned… if you see those three laser dots, it’s already too late.

    The Wikipedia article on this guy is pretty good.

  10. “I pick Liu!”
    “No fair, you always pick Liu…”

    -dialog between hide-and-go-seek teams
    Shandong Province Prepatory School
    Recess, 1982

  11. To all y’all saying this is not impressive as art because the guy didn’t paint himself…himself:

    You apparently have zero concept of what ‘art’ means in our modern world; it has become more than adeptly applying paint to canvas in a way that accurately depicts reality.

    If you can’t understand that the act of making the individual invisible (or rather, I would argue, making the invisible individual become visible) in a nation like China is a legitimate artistic enterprise, then I just feel bad for you.

    There’s a little more going on here than “oh that dude disappeared against a background lol”

  12. Synchronicity. Liu Bolin has an installation for the next 6 months at my local city museum. It’s not a big city.

  13. Hasn’t anyone heard of the original designer of this concept???
    Veruschka: Transfiguration by Vera Lehndorff and Holger Trulzch( author).

    While I appreciate the expression of Liu Bolin….he did NOT originate the method or this artistic expression in the world of art.

    My goodness, Veruschka book on this method, and her use of herself as the model came out in 1986!!!!

  14. Liu Bolin has been doing his Hiding in the City series since 2005. It started as a political commentary on the tensions between the Chinese government and their people and the identity an environment gives an individual and vice versa. Liu Bolin will be exhibiting at Eli Klein Fine Art in New York from June 29 – August 28, 2011. Eli Klein Fine Art represents him exclusively in North and South America. More images can be found on

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