Photo: Newsroom

Zigzag Warfare

Remembering patterns of conflict on 11 November

Every year in Britain, on 11 November, we remember the fallen of WW1, as well as the military personnel who have suffered in later conflicts. Pattern has always played a role in times of war, as much as peace, and has left long-lasting marks on the land itself.
At the Western Front in France, four years of conflict left the landscape criss-crossed with trenches and pocked with shell craters – vast areas of land scarred by the patterns of violence, as shown in the aerial photography from the Allied soldiers responsible for mapping the battlegrounds. The black-and-white images of ravaged earth could be mistaken for lunar landscapes, or perhaps – with their jagged trench lines – close-up shots of the junctions between the plates of the human skull.

The design of the trench networks deliberately employed pattern as a means of preserving lives – and of threatening them. The zig-zag structures were employed to minimise the loss of life by preventing enemy combatants firing down the length of the trench and allowed soldiers to defend individual corners in isolation. Larger angular sections jutting out towards no man’s land offered wider scope for sniper fire.

Each year on 11 November, PATTERNITY acknowledges the role played by pattern in both defence and devastation – and its value as a visual reminder of our shared history.