Diorama - The Future? Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017
Firstly, I want to report that my reading at Wild Readings earlier this week went very well. I read short paragraphs about three of my recent paintings, New Sky, Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell and Through the Mists of Time. I then read a slam drone poem I have written.
Here's a photo of me reading. The painting you can see is Through the Mists of Time.
DIORAMA - THE FUTURE
Diorama - The Future? is not unlike two earlier and smaller works on paper Fragmented and The Tree-of-Life Sends its Energy Underground.
The patches of red in Diorama - The Future? can indicate a few things - blood lost, life's fertility, energy lost, or maybe energy dispersed for later retrieval. These red patches act as landscape elements too, albeit possibly cosmic landscape ones. They could be mineral deposits, contour indicators, pools of energy, multiple glimpses of sunsets, bomb blasts on distant and close horizons....
The oscillation between positive and negative interpretations is deliberate. It reflects the ambiguity of orientation in the painting. Is the viewer above the landscape or are they looking down upon a landscape, or are they in front of one or maybe behind? This sense of flying around the landscape, and importantly the Reaper drone, forecloses any priority that might be given to the drone's so called 'vision'.
The viewer's orientation is disturbed by the upright and upside-down trees-of-life, the two white ones and the row of yellow ones. The white trees act as illuminating beacons. But, the drone is also white? Ah ha! Its failed attempt to camouflage itself is revealed! The emanating rays that appear on the top left look like the rays of a sun - but - they could be the scoping signals of a drone. They contrast with the upside down white tree with its emanating branches that reveal a more complex array of networks and systems than those signaled by the emanating drone rays. Again, perhaps an attempt to camouflage a drone's intrusive surveillance and possible targeting capabilities is revealed.
EYE IN THE SKY
By playing with orientation and ambiguous perspective the viewer becomes the 'eye in the sky' even if its in your mind's eye - imagination. Given the title of the painting Diorama - The Future? maybe the viewer is transported to the future - in imagination? Given that developments in militarised technology, such as increasingly autonomous systems, are already focused on perceived future of war needs, thinking critically about how the future might unfold is important. In some ways it is already militarised and in some minds so is imagination!
Rather than the word 'vision' to describe a drone's surveillance and targeting capabilities, I prefer the word 'scoping'. This removes the questionable habit we humans have of anthropomorphising non-human and non-living things. Scoping is a more technical term- related to targeting and surveillance. Vision, however, implies a lot more that we humans need to retain for ourselves, particularly imagination - our mind's eye!
P.S please take a look at my new DRONESCAPES page.