Thursday, July 20, 2017

THE NEW CLOUDS

The New Clouds Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017



I've previously painted airborne drones as 'clouds' and here is another painting where clusters or swarms of weaponised drones create cloud-proxies in the sky. 

I am playing with ideas of fluffy clouds that literally dance around our skies - and - THE Cloud where, with a click or two on our various cyber devices, we share and send photos, documents, data etc to be 'stored' remotely in ways that are accessible to us. But, who or what else can also access our data? 

TARGETING
In my mind, are also thoughts of targeting! Here, in The New Clouds I've 'targeted' one of the drones and it erupts in flames. But, the remaining drones continue with their proxy 'dances'. They do not seem to detect that they are being watched - by you and me. Here, I've attempted to turn pervasive surveillance, with its targeting agenda, back onto the drones. We - you and me - could be everywhere - above the drones, below them, in front of them or even behind them! 

THE CLOUD
With regards to THE Cloud, it offers another kind of opportunity to 'target'. Advertisers, corporations, governments and so on, can access data that includes our online patterns of behaviour, to 'target' us with goods, services and promotions. There's a plethora of uses for this kind of data - and it is not always as benign as an advertiser targeting your Facebook page with Landrover Discovery ads moments after you have searched online for your dream car! Yes, I am keen on Discos - the old version.

That THE Cloud's operations actually exist and occur as a result of material infrastructure belies the notion of fluffy vapourous clouds. Massive servers require space in huge buildings. Servers suck energy, and they need to be connected and interconnected with cables that cross continents and oceans to ensure backup, rerouting and instantaneous reactions. The harnessing of space based assets to assist connectivity adds another layer of material infrastructure beyond Earth's atmosphere. And, in one way or another, all this infrastructure is used for both civilian and military purposes, thus blurring the lines between battlefield and city/home. 

AWARENESS VERSUS DETECTION
Like the drones in The New Clouds, are we oblivious to the pervasive surveillance into our daily activities? The drones cannot be aware or unaware, because they are not sentient. Their sensor systems simply detect or not. Yet, we have powers of awareness, but are we using them? Do our devices, constantly accompanying us in our pockets, our handbags and embedded in our cars etc transform us into nodes in a system that ultimately renders awareness obsolete and detection capabilities pragmatically more efficient?



The New Clouds is another of my dronescapes or cosmicscapes - or - maybe it's a skyscape? Whatever it is, it reflects upon the technical, philosophical, political and historical research, into contemporary militarised technology, I have undertaken for my Master of Philosophy at the University of Queensland. Happy to report that I submitted my thesis this week! And, I have around 90 works on paper, completed over the last nearly two years, that track my research progress. Now to find somewhere to exhibit them!

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NEWS
My entry, Universal Code, for the inaugural $35,000 Ravenswood Australian Women's Art Prize has been selected as a finalist. The Award is announced on August 4.


Cheers,
Kathryn



Drone Clouds Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016


Cloud Storage Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016


Sky-Drone-Net Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

CROSSING THE RUBICON

Crossing the Rubicon Gouache on paper 67 x 56 cm 2017



POINT OF NO RETURN
The term 'crossing the Rubicon' means, being at the point of no return. Historically there is a background story. In 49 BC, Julius Caesar's army crossed the Rubicon River in north east Italy. It was considered an act of insurrection and treason, and a declaration of war against the Roman Senate. 

When I painted the new work above, I was also thinking about the event horizon, a cosmological term to describe the 'point of no return' at the entry of a black hole. However, a black hole emits nothing, not even light, and my new painting reveals a fire - is this a hopeful sign? 

FIRE - HEAT - LIGHT
Despite the fire in Crossing the Rubicon indicating light, the tree-of-life seems threatened, not by a black hole's event horizon, but by another kind of possible point of no return. This point relates to climate change commentary regarding global warming. At what point will it be too hot for humans, and other creatures and plants, to survive? Will we all have time to adjust? Or will we be like the proverbial frog placed in water that is brought to the boil - not noticing how hot it is until too late! Should we develop extremophile characteristics? Maybe we are already mutating? Extremophiles are organisms that survive in extreme environments and temperature conditions. Fascinating critters! Yet, maybe transformation into transhuman/robotic entities is the only way we might survive?

In Crossing the Rubicon a tree-of-life is drawn towards a place where it suddenly erupts into fire. However, whilst fire is destructive, it can also symbolise renewal. Maybe the point of no return can be avoided or maybe it triggers something else, another way of being? Maybe the point of no return, 'crossing the Rubicon', is about social and political will? 

Crossing the Rubicon may indicate no return, but it does not negate a future - of some kind. 

COSMIC LANDSCAPE
Crossing the Rubicon is another of my cosmic landscapes. You could be looking down from space upon a literal landscape, maybe not even Earth! Or, you could be looking up at a 'spacescape', witnessing cosmic events unfold. Or, maybe looking into a landscape - somewhere. Cosmic perspectives offer intriguing ways to view ourselves, our planet and our universal environment. 



Please check out COSMIC FIRE and THE BODY POLITIC

Cheers,
Kathryn

Saturday, July 08, 2017

THE BODY POLITIC

The Body Politic Gouache on paper 76 x 56 cm 2017


THE TERM 'THE BODY POLITIC'
The term 'the body politic' is used as a metaphor to describe a nation, a sovereignty, a corporation where people are organised, or considered as a group, subjected to laws pertaining to notions of citizenry. 

In a globalised world 'the body politic' can be considered as being all of us. 

The notion of a body to describe a group of people, and the systems that organise them, is intriguing. There is a fascinating history - but that's another post! 


THE HUMAN SECURITY FORUM
I've been stimulated to think about 'the body politic' after attending a terrific one day workshop "The Human Security Forum" hosted by Griffith University and facilitated by Dr. Samid Suliman, here in Brisbane, Australia. One of the presenters was a visiting scholar, Dr. Stefanie Fishel, from Alabama University, USA. Her book The Microbial State: Global Thriving and the Body Politic  is launched this month. [Check it out for the historical and philosophical background to ideas of 'the body politic' too]. 

After hearing Dr. Fishel speak at the workshop, and a few days later at an event hosted by the Queensland School of Continental Philosophy, the metaphoric capabilities of the body [human and non-human] were expanded, but also made more material. In making the metaphor more material, the body's relationship with its environment became more evidently important - for survival. In the age of the Anthropocene, this opens up more penetrative ways to think about 'the body politic's', ie: humankind's, relationship with Earth, the atmosphere and space. As I have previously written, Earth is our home, but the universe is our environment.* By blurring the lines between body and environment, making porosity evident, it becomes evident that they are interchangeable. This interchangeability is metaphoric, visceral and corporeal.

Ah, Ha! The spiritual notion of oneness has a catalytic essence, amongst others - of course! 


TREE-OF-LIFE
So, after mulling over ideas that popped into my head as I listened to Dr. Fishel, the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life symbol kept returning to me [regular readers will not be surprised!] as a motif that straddles the nano and the vast, linking body and environment. As the tree's branching appearance mirrors our human body's internal systems it also mirrors water, plant and landscape systems of Earth. The branching phenomena, above and below the ground, is also reflected in our eyes, on the palms of our hands and in finger prints. Other animals share body functioning traits, as they also share this planetary environment with us. Further afield, the tree's branching appearance is reflected in images of space, from nebulae to even large scale computer simulations of the structure of the universe. And, one wonders about multi-universes as branches and roots from a primordial 'tree' of no end or beginning! 


THE PAINTING - THE BODY POLITIC 
In The Body Politic I have painted another of my cosmic landscapes. The 'body' of the 'landscape' is on fire. This 'landscape' represents all kinds of environments, from the body itself - to a personal address - to a cosmic one - and more. The fire could be taken a couple of ways. Is it a destructive fire, or is it symbolic of renewal? The trees-of-life, moving up the centre of the painting, inhabit what I'd imagined as a kind of airway through the fiery 'body/landscape'. Here, the trees act as filtering follicles that keep air moving, making individual and collective breath possible. That trees literally produce oxygen is a key to the osmotic relationship between breathing bodies, the environment and even organisational concepts, such as the 'body politic'.

The Body Politic can be read as a 'landscape' of a human body - even a slice of it - like an x-ray or other internal views, such as a MRI scan. It could also be read as an multi-perspectival view of a literal landscape. Are you looking into this landscape, almost caught? Or are you above it, looking down upon it, like a remote pilot operating a drone, monitoring successful strikes? Or, are you below it, looking up towards a fiery atmospheric battlefield? Maybe it's a cosmic sky - a future 'scape' of the demise of the sun and the solar system, with the trees representing our scattered star dust - the foibles of human politics now meaningless...?

DATA-PROXY 'BODY POLITIC'
From a technological point of view, the branching appearance of the tree, also mirrors human-made systems, such as computer circuitry. In fact, the tree's branching system is used to 'visualise' flows of data, behavioural patterns and other information. Artificial intelligence systems incorporate what is called 'tree-logic', based on ideas of decision and learning trees. In the age of digital and cyber technology, the 'body politic' extends into realms of technology, where the 'body' is no longer living, but is presented, in subterfuge, as a re-assembled data-proxy. That's another post!

Cheers, 
Kathryn

P.S. Check out this article in The Conversation written by Assoc. Prof Anthony Bourke and Assoc Prof. Stefanie Fishel Politics for the Planet: Why Nature and Wildlife Need Their Own Seats at the UN.


* Selection of other posts where home and environment are mentioned.

Friday, June 30, 2017

AS I FLEW PAST EARTH, I NOTICED EVIDENCE OF DRONES

As I Flew Past Earth, I Noticed Evidence of Drones, Gouache on paper 76 x 56 cm, 2017



In As I Flew Past Earth, I Noticed Evidence of Drones I have imagined being in a spacecraft, or being a speck of star dust, or being some kind of super force flying around the universe. As I pass by planet Earth I notice evidence of drones, their surveillance and targeting signals. How many drones - I cannot tell. 

I also notice signs of life, human and non-human - fragmented, turned upside down, hidden. However, there are also signs of defiance, regeneration, hope.


AERIAL PERSPECTIVE
Regular readers will observe that in this new painting I've taken an aerial perspective, yet again. Indeed, this perspective is evident in most of my work. I like to fly! I also like to think I can take the viewer with me, way beyond Earth, but also perhaps right up close, even inside its crust. This kind of imaginative flying could be a really significant capability in the 'drone age'. As airborne drones loiter in skies, hovering above terrain, scoping with their various surveillance capabilities, our horizons are netted with signals and vertically delivered potential threats. 

PANOPTICON
The airborne drone channels ideas of a panopticon with an intent to observe without being seen. Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham proposed a panopticon as an institution designed for inmates, where a single guard could observe prisoners without being seen. That the guard could not be seen meant that prisoners were never sure if someone was observing or how many might be observing. Are we and other living creatures 'inmates' on a planet increasingly surveilled by drones? Should we also think about how satellite infrastructure, currently conscripted to aid communication and environmental awareness for drone operation, is utilised for surveillance and other potentially more lethal purposes? I claim we need to fly beyond our droned skies and beyond orbiting communication and GPS satellites,ie:  way beyond low Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and high Earth orbit, to get some perspective! 

So, if we can 'fly' around the drone and space-based enabling infrastructure then maybe we can subvert the power drone capabilities insidiously deploy. We can, with imagination, turn ourselves into observers with truly full spectrum temporal and spatial agency. 

The trees-of-life in As I Flew Past Earth, I Noticed Evidence of Drones are showing us how - don't you think?

Cheers,
Kathryn  



Thursday, June 22, 2017

THE LEAVES ARE LEAVING

The Leaves Are Leaving gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


THE WORLD
As masses of people flee their homes, due to war, conflict, drought, famine, poverty and suppression of many kinds, what does it mean for the soul of humanity? Displaced people flee homes in one country to seek refuge in another, some leave homes to live a homeless life in their own countries, and others never find new homes except in camps and settlements for displaced people. Others, die trying to find a new path. 

As the world runs amok people retreat to extreme beliefs, setting up polarisations that neuter balanced political traction, social cohesion and cultural understanding. Retreat to extremes represents another kind of exodus. A kind of exodus that seems to make things worse.

THE LEAVES ARE LEAVING
In the Leaves Are Leaving a mass of people are on the move, their silhouettes atop a hilly horizon. All the people are red. A flame-like swathe of red leaves shoots upwards into a turbulent sky which is dotted with groupings of red dots. I've deliberately painted the people, the leaves and the dots red - because they all represent the same thing - life. 

Regular readers will know that the leaves are from the tree-of-life, a recurrent theme in much of my work. Here, the tree is not portrayed. It has relinquished its leaves, sending them to seek refuge and safety in realms beyond. 

SUN/DRONE AND DUAL USE
The colourful radiating rays peeping through the stormy clouds could be a sun, but regular readers will realise that they could also be the surveillance and targeting signals of an obscured drone. These rays are symbolic of the insidious infiltration of militarised style surveillance that pervades our physical and online lives. That the rays could be a sun or a drone's surveillance signals demonstrates the increasingly blurred lines between civilian and military use of digital and cyber infrastructures and systems. Two days ago I watched a new short documentary produced by Dr. Ian Shaw. The film is called Remote: A Documentary About Drones and Humans and it demonstrates very clearly how militarised surveillance, under the guise of policing and security, has seeped into our everyday lives. Do watch the film!

Cheers,
Kathryn



Friday, June 16, 2017

CAN THE LEAVES STILL DANCE?

Can The leaves Still Dance? gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

A STORY
When my eldest child was about two and a half we were sitting on our verandah which looked over a creek. This S. E Queensland [Australia] rural setting was complete with grassy fields, cattle grazing and gum trees lining the creek banks. A faint breeze was stirring. My toddler turned to me and said "Look Mummy the leaves are dancing". The leaves were rustling in the breeze and the sharp eyes of a two year old noticed. I will never forget this moment for a number of reasons.

I was thinking about dancing leaves when I painted Can The leaves Still Dance? 

21st CENTURY
In an age where environmental issues plague us and droughts cause mass migrations of people, even if trees have leaves - would people notice them dancing in a breeze? In an age where we are glued to our digital devices, do we look up and around to notice leaves dancing in a breeze? In an age where cities are congested, as we traverse busy streets, sip coffee in trendy cafes and work in interior designed offices do we notice any trees, let alone their dancing leaves? 

In the 21st century, the age of simulation, drones, surveillance and monitoring can we still appreciate leaves dancing as a breeze rustles through a tree's branches. What if we took 'dancing leaves' and a 'breeze' as co-metaphors for life transmitted symbolically in the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life? In  Can The leaves Still Dance? I've included references to many trees - trees-of-life - some upright and some upside down. One tree acts as the figures' shadow. It is a shared shadow, the shadow of all humanity - past, present and future. There are 'rivers' of leaves too. Are they fallen leaves now dancing to another life tune? Or, maybe they are escaping? In the background radiating lines appear sun-like. But, could they be the surveillance and targeting signals of a hovering drone?

I'm sure you have stories to tell, thoughts to entertain, memories to remember and dreams to dream - so I'll leave you to think some more about Can The Leaves Still Dance? 

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This is another of my cosmic landscapes. Also, a dronescape. Interesting, though, that country Queensland is still there - launched to other realms of the universe!

Cheers,
Kathryn.
Please follow me on Instagram to see more images of paintings, studio shots etc. 


Thursday, June 08, 2017

SPACE NET

Space Net Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017



Space Net is related to another recent painting Code Empire  where I have painted Earth [or another planet?] and its moon with strings of binary code. I have not used binary code in Space Net but I was thinking about signals emanating from Earth into space - and signals emanating from space to Earth. 

AERIALS IN SPACE
In Space Net the circle could be Earth, but it could also be another planet, or it could be the centre of a space ship! The triangulated prongs could be signals or some other kind of technical infrastructure, physical or digital, that enables communication, orientation and surveillance. I painted them to look like the huge aerials my father had built beside our house on our grain farm in the middle of the Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia. These aerials facilitated reception and transmission for my father's HAM radio communication signals. In a sense I've uprooted them and sent them into space! Here in Space Net they represent structure, even if it is unseen; the kind of digital and cyber structures that net our skies, that net the space between Earth and satellites orbiting Earth, and in some cases extending beyond. An example of the latter is Voyager 1, now travelling in interstellar space. It still sends signals that NASA can receive. That's actually quite amazing! Something human beings made is now beyond our solar system...

Space Net conjures a few thoughts - if the circle in Earth, something or someone has us covered! The planet is completely connected and surveilled, cloaked in a net of signals that create unseen avenues for power and control, but by who or what? Has the planet been colonised by the forces of the algorithm, the originators lost in time? Or, is this image a spaceship carrying humanity to its next planetary home? If so, is humanity continuing its urge to colonise or is it escaping an unsustainable Earth? 

AIRBORNE MILITARISED DRONES
As regular readers know, over the last 18 months or so, the figure of the militarised airborne drone has entered my paintings. If I don't depict the actual drone, I paint its signals, to expose their presence, to aestheticise them in ways that draw attention to them. These painted 'signals' are symbolic of the increasing persistence of monitoring, surveillance and scoping of life by remotely operated and increasingly autonomous systems. Space Net can also be read as one of my dronescapes, where drones circle the Earth casting surveillance and ever-ready targeting 'nets' across the planet.


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NET - SURVEILLANCE is an earlier post with 2 paintings where I have exposed a drone's signals.

DRONESCAPES     Please check out my designated DRONESCAPES page. 

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, June 01, 2017

COSMIC FIRE - Online Exhibition


 HOT Gouache on paper  56 x 76 cm 2017 


COSMIC FIRE is an online exhibition of a selection of my paintings that refer, either directly or indirectly, to fire. Not any old kind of fire though, and not necessarily real fires. I am thinking about cosmic fire, the kind that precipitates or represents the birth or death of solar systems, the kind that erupts when landscapes change, when volcanoes spill forth a planet's buried entrails. Or, fire as a symbolic warning that human activities can have catastrophic outcomes.

Do we want to stir the dark chasms?

I have selected a few recent works on paper and placed some of them with older paintings. I've done this to demonstrate how some themes continue in an artist's practice, albeit often not in direct ways.

INFLUENCES
Recent paintings have been influenced by my research into militarised technology. Older work that was influenced by my interest in cosmology resonate with my recent cosmic landscapes - often harbouring loitering airborne weaponised drones The tree-of-life is a common element in many of the paintings. It streams hope. Ultimately, my interest in cosmology has extended an interest in another theme, that of perspective, both literal and metaphoric. My influences are woven through my paintings and over time a fabric of images has emerged.


PRICES
If you are interested in buying please contact me through the "Contact Form" upper right of this post.

And, if you are interested in my dronescapes please visit DRONESCAPES


DARK CHASMS


Stirring the Dark Chasm Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Perpetual Beginning Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2011


Firmament Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm [51 x 62 cm framed] 2011


ANTHROPOCENE


 Anthropocene Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017. 


 Cosmic Testimony Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Planet $ Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm 2011


BIRTH AND DEATH OF WORLDS


 Star Blood Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Greener Pastures Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm 2014


Birth of Landscape oil on linen 138 x 168 cm 2014

FIRE AND FLOOD 


                            Fire and Flood: Extremus Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017 NFS


Storm Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm 2012


SECRETS

I've 'curated' Secrets as the last painting because, whilst not directly referencing fire, it contains some hopeful ideas - but it depends on how you read it.


Secrets Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Cheers,
Kathryn