NATO: The Military Codification System for the Ordering of Everything in the World


NATO: The Military Codification System for the Ordering of Everything in the World


21 × 29.5 cm | 11.5 × 9 in
180 ills | 208 pages

Authors: Suzanne Treister, Marek Kohn

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The NATO Codification System (NCS) is a military inventory that is both complex and comprehensive, using at its base a four-digit coding system to identify, classify and number items of supply. Since discovering a file on the NATO Codification System in the offices of a defence spares company in London, Suzanne Treister became fascinated by the nature of the codification, using it to develop an encyclopaedic series of watercolours. The book contains 186 of these intricate still life renditions of diverse objects, including: machinery, radios, nuclear bombs, musical instruments, toiletries, leather shoes, combat ships, games, camouflage equipment, clothing, laundry equipment and pyrotechnics among others.

Treister specifically references the history of watercolours as a scientific illustrative tool, and by evoking the history and narrative of representational painting within the taxonomies of the military, her work conjures them into the matrix of unease that constitutes our understanding of the world today.

These beautifully crafted illustrations not only showcase Treister’s vivid imagination, but ultimately investigate the idea that there is an underlying scientific and philosophical teleology at work in the act of such representation, leading to the increase of our wisdom and understanding.

Described by Art in America as “one of the most sustained fantasy trips of contemporary art”, Suzanne Treister’s work has been pioneering in the digital field from the beginning of the 1990s, developing fictional worlds and international collaborative organisations. The founder member of three collaborative artistic groups, NIH, PI and ICOLS, she has recently exhibited at The Science Museum, Annely Juda Fine Art, and Tate Britain in London.

She is also the author of Hexen 2039: New Military-Occult Technologies for Psychological Warfare, a Rosalind Brodsky Research Programme, Black Dog Publishing London UK, 2006.