Camouflage has been a part of living systems since very near the beginning of life here on Earth. Camouflage is desirable to a predator so it can approach prey, and conversely the prey benefits from camouflage by being difficult for predators to discover. With a breeding species the quality of the camouflage improves over time, if there is any heritable trait in the morphology that can be influenced by the DNA. For this effect it is only necessary that something can be selected by the forcing factors of the various interactions. So, for living things camouflage is anything that helps create progeny by altering the perceptions of other living things.
Usually camouflage theory is concerned only with the visual aspect of concealment, but a general theory, especially one which intends to see beyond the concealment to the reality behind the masks, will be concerned with all realms of non-obvious information. It will expand beyond the standard senses such as seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting, to include other forms of information outside of the senses. Of course all sensation is mediated by the senses, so what is intended in the search is information in any media or form, such as forms of writing: news, fiction, stories, philosophy, science, propaganda. The search is on for non-available information in all its forms, and hopefully many other forms which are at present unknown will come within perception.
Each of these other forms of information could be media for camouflage theory to be applied to and, once the cloak of camouflage is removed, made available for use. Probably there already exists considerable subterfuge in any human-mediated field, but with a generalized theory, based on observed camouflage in visual systems, there will become apparent crossover applications as yet undiscovered in seemingly remote forms of information. The Wikipedia article has this arrangement based on vision:
- 2.1 Crypsis
- 2.2 Mimesis
- 2.3 Motion dazzle
This list is a fine start for understanding camouflage in the visual world, but there are obvious missing categories. Each of the visual camouflage concepts can probably be applied to all of the other unrelated embodiments of information. Camouflage of vision sensing is the prevention of communication of information upon which the most research has been performed; it is our starting place on how to both make and reveal the camouflage and the obscured items. The existing visual research should be transferable to every other form of information. We will soon see, or perhaps we won’t see, but the search has begun.
This is a search for truth based on removing the obscuring factors; but first it is necessary to study and understand how the obscuring processes function. We will first observe how camouflage masks from view objects which their users want to remain hidden.