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

Friday, May 26, 2017

CODE EMPIRE

Code Empire Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


In Code Empire I have painted Earth and its moon in binary code that repeats/instructs the word EMPIRE. But the full code is not seen, as it wraps around the planet and the moon. Various satellites are positioned in space, and signals radiate into - or - from outer space. 

Code Empire is a continuation of my interest in trying to portray and reflect upon the influence of contemporary digital and cyber technology in our daily lives generally, and in war and conflict specifically. A recent article "U.S. Empire, Warfare, and Geopolitics in the Robot Age" by Ian Shaw directly spurred me to create Code Empire.(1) In the article, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Security Dialogue, Shaw discusses "more-than-human geopolitics" by drawing nonhuman entities, cyborgs, artificial intelligence and algorithms etc, into the realm of geopolitical influence, particularly regarding warfare. The notion of empire is applied to the way contemporary technology enmeshes the planet in a way the sets preconditions for a future dominated by algorithms, artificial intelligence and robotic forces. Shaw uses terms such as "planetary technics" and "robo-mesh". I particularly like "robo-mesh"! His article raises a plethora of questions about the future of war, security and surveillance, and humanity's place in a world where technology not only changes where and how humans live, but also notions of human agency, power and involvement.    

The World Needs Artists
As regular readers know, I have a keen interest in contemporary weaponised technology, especially airborne drones, increasing autonomy in weapon systems, swarming capabilities and ubiquitous surveillance technology. Code Empire channels all these interests as well as my interest in cosmological perspective. I propose that cosmic perspectives, albeit imagined, are useful ways to critically view current global geopolitical machinations. When I say "imagined", I know some people find it hard to transport themselves beyond the here, now and the obvious - that's why the world needs artists!

Cosmic Perspective
With a cosmic perspective, a few readings of Code Empire are possible. Maybe it exposes the infiltration of militarised surveillance facilitation beyond Earth's atmosphere to dual-use communication and GPS satellites; the digital 'empire' already extended into space? If this is the case it is not just the planet enmeshed in code, but also our atmosphere and beyond. Human endeavours regarding technological development are to be marveled, but ultimately is there a human cost, perhaps not initially apparent? Researchers at the Center for the Study of Existential Risk, the Future of Humanity Institute and others have certainly determined that there are risks with accelerating developments in new technologies, including artificial intelligence. 

What if...?
Whilst Code Empire might depict Earth and the moon, it may not be an image of anything in our solar system at all! It could be another planet in another star system or galaxy - or universe, also enmeshed by code! Or, it could be 'evidence' that Earth, and possibly the universe, may be a simulation run by posthumans. My painted signals may not be radiating out from Earth, but into it from some kind of external/remote motherboard entity. Here, I am thinking of philosopher Nick Bostrom's simulation theory, which I have previously written about.* It is useful to think about the idea of a posthuman simulation, because it implies that the human species no longer exists. If we are not a simulation, thinking about a post - human world might trigger more critical and urgent examinations of the role militarised-capable technology plays as a threat to not only human agency but also human species existence. 

As Shaw notes in another article, "Policing the Future City: Robotics Being-in-the-World" Understanding the worldliness of algorithms is to view them as forces embedded in the flesh, texture, steel, stone, and undulating atmospheres of our more-than-human co-existence.  (2)

Co-existence - for now!

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(1) Ian Shaw, A pre-corrected draft version of Shaw's article "U.S. Empire, Warfare, and Geopolitics in the Robot Age" is currently available on Shaw's Academia.edu page. It has been accepted for publication in Security Dialogue.
(2) Ian Shaw, "Policing the Future City: Robotics Being-in-the-World", a paper presented at Intervention Symposium – Algorithmic Governance Organised by Jeremy Crampton and Andrea Miller, published in Antipode: A Radical Journal of Georgraphy, 5.


* Some other paintings where I reference Nick Bostrom's simulation theory. 
And, my designated page:

Please also visit my DRONESCAPES page.

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, May 18, 2017

FOREVER WATCHED

Forever Watched Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


In Forever Watched a group of human beings stand together under a cage of yellow rays. Is the source of these rays a spotlight, a protective force-field, surveillance signals from an obscured drone or maybe a computer-graphic rendering of a kill zone? Maybe humanity is being lit by a star on a cosmic stage? Is it God sending divine light? Is it magic? 

This painting is another of my cosmic landscapes where I play with perspective, literal and metaphoric. With cosmic perspectives events such as conflict and war are clearly futile and over consumption of natural resources seems like a death wish. Risk takes on new dimensions when we really think about the fact that, for the time being anyway, Earth is our only home! Looking after it and ourselves seem like sensible things to do.

But, there are forces afoot that create and maintain tension.

The 21st century is an era of pervasive and ubiquitous surveillance. In the 22nd century will the 21st century be considered the beginning the 'forever watched epoch'? 

Surveillance occurs when data is collected from  GPS systems and mobile phone usage. Internet usage and browsing history delivers more data. Crowd monitoring in shopping centers and at events gleans even more data. We are under surveillance at airports, our documents cross-checked, our bodies and belongings xrayed and our movements around the globe recorded. 

There is a plethora of ways for people to be watched, passively or aggressively.

In some areas of the world airborne drones monitor individuals and groups for signs of behaviour that, for those watching, may indicate malign intent. This kind of surveillance acts as a type of quasi-military policing, placing fear into those who are constantly watched and monitored. That a drone could quickly turn from surveillance mode to killing mode couples surveillance with lethal weaponry in one device. The drone then becomes a multi faceted dexterous device - private detective, witness, analyst, prosecutor, judge and executioner combined!

Being watched, however, can be considered a way to ensure citizenry safety - a protective practice. Yet, there is something rather creepy about being under constant scrutiny. And, have things become bad enough to require constant scrutiny/protection?  Arguably, being forever watched could be considered an insidious way to insert mechanisms of control across domains. Welcome to the "everywhere war"(Derek Gregory, 2011).


Cosmic Testimony Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, May 11, 2017

COSMIC TESTIMONY

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


WITNESSING
Giving testimony is that act of providing evidence of an event, an occurrence, a behaviour or even a phenomenon. Maybe it is an eyewitness testimony? Or, it could be a "flesh witness" testimony from someone who has an immersive experienced in something, rather than observational one? Yuval Noah Harari's article "Scholars, Eyewitnesses, and Flesh-Witnesses of War: A Tense Relationship," is a terrific introduction to the nuanced differences between an eyewitness and a "flesh witness".

In Cosmic Testimony a number of questions about witnessing are triggered. Is the image a projected future scenario that provides a chance to witness the future in order to preempt disaster? Here, I take my cue from Forensic Architecture's postulation that "forensic futures" are possible. Although, I do not use new media, digital data or documentary techniques to create my images, the idea of touching the future is really tantalising. Here's a quote from the Forensic Architecture website, "forensic futures sets out to document the enabling conditions of violence, and offers an archive that may be called upon to testify in the future." Here, a key idea is "enabling conditions of violence". The Forensic Architecture website mentions patterns of behaviour that are likely to be repeated in the future as an indication of "enabling conditions".

REPEATING PATTERNS
In Cosmic Testimony there are hints of a number of repeating patterns - extreme climate events - increasing presence of surveillance - the presence of ever increasing developments in militarised technology ie: drone capabilities. But, there are no real answers - it's a painting after all! Rather than answers, there are questions. Was the fire caused by the small but lethally armed red drone - its Hellfire missiles erupting in massive destruction? Depending on your answer you might read the human figures, enclosed by a cage of yellow rays, as either captured or protected? Are they captured in surveillance signals of an airborne drone? Maybe they are targeted and a kill zone is delineated around them? Or, maybe the yellow rays are protective, some kind of divine force keeping humanity safe? The fire may be an Australian firestorm. Indeed, firestorms and floods seem to occur with increasing frequency around the world, presenting evidence that extreme climate change is potentially a major existential risk to humanity. Yet, the fire is inspired by my childhood memories of my father burning off crop stubble.* 

COSMIC PERSPECTIVE
With a cosmic perspective patterns become obvious. This is at the same time it becomes clear that humanity has nowhere else to go if Earth is compromised to the extent it cannot support life. Distance provides the space for a kind of witnessing where "patterns of behaviour" by "familiar cast of characters" help to foretell a future where violence, ignorance and unsustainable practices could be the norm. 

TREE-OF-LIFE
However, in Cosmic Testimony I  have included my version of the transcultural/religious tree-of-life as another kind of evidence - of sustainable life! The presence of the tree and its roots, coupled with the fire symbolically speak of renewal, potency and rebirth. The spinney of leaves speak of time passing and act as a pathway for humanity. Ultimately, the painting presents a few possible futures for humanity - good and bad - each largely depending on choices we make here and now in the twenty-first century. This is one of the messages Martin Rees conveyed in his fascinating book Our Final Century: Will the Human Race Survive the Twenty-First Century? 



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


Other fiery paintings:

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, May 04, 2017

HOT

Hot Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


CROP STUBBLE
Regular readers will have noticed a few fires in my recent paintings. The inspiration is drawn from childhood memories of my father burning crop stubble. Magnificent fires, over hectares of ground, lit as the sky darkened...the most still part of the day. These fires took over the horizon in ways that brought the Milky Way closer. Embers and stars seem to meet - fleetingly. The flat treeless plain, where my parents' farm was situated, provided fire with a 'canvas' of vast proportions.   

In my recent paintings I've transported my childhood memories into cosmic landscapes where orientation is somewhat ambiguous. I really like the sense of flying! In Hot I imagine I could be an ember or a star! You could be too.

SERIOUSLY, HOT
But, seriously Hot does engage with issues relating to global warming and environmental sustainability. Here, in Australia fires and firestorms seem to have become fiercer and more regular, particularly during our long hot summers. 'Heated' debates about how land is prepared or not prepared for fire possibilities occur, before and after fire events. Farmers, green lobbyists, environmentalists, government departments argue about the best ways to prevent fire occurring and spreading. But, we approach each summer with trepidation.

What if the fire in Hot is Earth's last remnant, consumed by cataclysmic devastation? Or, it could be a painting of the future, when the Sun meets its demise and the solar system is destroyed. Maybe Hot is the Sun's last gasp, Earth already non-existent? Maybe it's not Earth or our Sun? Maybe, it's a fire at another cosmic address?

Other fiery paintings:

Cheers,
Kathryn