Tuesday, February 20, 2018

DRONES AND CODE: FUTURE NOW

Drones and Code: Future Now Oil on linen 40 x 56 cm 2018


FUTURE OF WAR
Recently there have been articles* in Australian news outlets reporting on the Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell's statements about Australia's preparedness for the future of war. This future is one characterised by advanced robotic technologies and the utilisation of artificial intelligence in a range of military and associated activities - eg; surveillance, data monitoring, battlefield support, targeting. 

Lieutenant General Angus Campbell seemed keen to re-enforce that robotic and autonomous systems would assist and support human soldiers. The participation by a human being in decision making loops is one of the hotly debated issues raised by the development of increasingly autonomous lethal weapon systems. The Chief of the Army also expressed concerns about Australia's ability to keep up with foreign adversary capabilities; state, non-state and rogue. These concerns were also about Australia's ability to assist allied forces, as well as Australia's abilities to protect its land and people from less ethical forces.

ARMS RACE?
I read the news articles, and a couple of things came to mind. I understand that defence forces compare their capabilities with those of other forces. In the contemporary case it seems the focus is on potential future capabilities, where emerging technologies, accelerating at a fast pace, offer marked strategic and tactical advantages. When a focus is on the future and comparing capabilities, do we have an arms race?  

DRONES and CODE: FUTURE NOW
My new painting Drones and Code: Future Now is an Australian landscape, seen from a cosmic vantage point. This cosmic vantage point could be both spatial and temporal. Is this landscape a contemporary one, or is it a future landscape? Surely, if military minds and imaginations can  project into the future, so can I? Indeed, one could argue that militarised imaginations pave a path into the future. In doing so they militarise the future too! Are we aware of this though? 

For me, the cosmic vantage point can help us think critically about the future and how rhetoric surrounding the 'future of war' affects humanity now, let alone in the future. The big cosmic picture offers multiple perspectives that can draw in the past, the present and the future, and even a more distant future than the one militarised imaginations have occupied. What does the far distant future call to us? Surely it is imperative to follow militarised imaginations into their future, and then to proceed beyond it, in order to gain a temporal perspectival advantage that might offer a new imaginary? If we can return from the far distant future, carrying our new imaginary, how would that affect life now?

In Drones and Code: Future Now the continent of Australia presents as a black hole, as if the land mass has fallen away from the universe. Is the continent real? Binary code, wrapped twice around the continent's edge, instructs LANDSCAPE: 01001100 01000001 01001110 01000100 01010011 01000011 01000001 01010000 01000101. This may indicate that the Australian continent is a simulation? Has physical landscape been replaced by virtual landscape? Or, is it a subterfuge, a continental camouflage designed to protect land and people? The presence of weaponised drones certainly suggests a contested environment. Three red drones depart Australia - have they achieved their mission or are they Australian drones offering protection? One dark drone moves toward Australia. Again, its intent is ambiguous. Does it represent a malign force or the return of an Australian drone from a battle of robots?

The presence of the satellites indicate the inter-connectivity of technological infrastructure and therefore, the insidious creep of militarising capabilities. They also demonstrate that the viewer [you] is hovering above them. Your vantage point is revelatory. The fact that two satellites and one drone are darkly painted, like the Australian continent, perhaps suggests further stealth, simulation, but also possible signs of annihilation. 

Drones and Code: Future Now is an ambiguous Australian landscape. If it is a future landscape it is necessarily ambiguous because speculation calls for ambiguity, but also provocation. It just depends on whether the painting presents a near future or a distant future - tomorrow, next year, a century away or a billion years? But, given the current rhetoric about 'future of war', debates about lethal autonomous weapons and the role of artificial intelligence, and research into existential risk posed by emerging technologies, maybe Drones and Code: Future Now is actually a contemporary landscape?


Cheers,
Kathryn



Saturday, February 10, 2018

DRONE SPIRAL 2

Drone Spiral 2 Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2018


I have been working on Drone Spiral 2 [above] for some time. I started it last year. And, now I think it is finished. As you can see from the image below, this new painting relates to an earlier work on paper called Drone Spiral. This painting won the inaugural World of Drones Congress, Art Prize, held last year here in Brisbane. The organisers are gearing up for the WOD2018 congress

DRONED LANDSCAPE
In my new painting I wanted the image to look like an overview of a new leafy suburb, with houses, gardens, parks etc. But, the houses are replaced with weaponised drones! I wanted a landscape-type appearance in order to generate questions about our Earthly environment generally. I also wanted to visually suggest that new technologies, such as unmanned surveillance and weaponised airborne drones, are changing landscapes and, thus, how we might operate and live in them. 

The spiraling appearance of the strip of droned landscape gives the impression of falling - but is it falling to Earth or away from Earth? Earth - here - being the pale blue dot! Also, maybe it depicts just one drone, demonstrating the different stages of falling - or - maybe there is a swarm of drones. If this is the case, maybe they are not falling, but in formation to optimise mission outcomes. 

DIZZINESS
Whether falling to or away from Earth, or on a mission, there is a sense of constant motion, even dizzying motion. This dizziness reflects the fast paced nature of drone technology development, including increasing advances in autonomous systems. Policy makers and lawyers are finding it difficult to respond to rapidly developing systems that impose potentially new impacts and risks on society and humanity.

The dizziness and sense of falling - to or from Earth - signifies that maybe we human beings are on a metaphoric precipice. As Lord Martin Rees wrote in his fascinating book Our Final Century  

I think the odds are no better than fifty-fifty that our present civilisation on Earth will survive to the end of the present century. Our choices and actions could ensure the perpetual future of life (not just on Earth, but perhaps far beyond it, too). Or in contrast, through malign intent, or through misadventure, twenty-first century technology could jeopardise life’s potential, foreclosing its human and posthuman future. What happens here on Earth, in this century, could conceivably make the difference between a near eternity filled with ever more complex and subtle forms of life and one filled with nothing but base matter.

Martin Rees, Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future in This Century—On Earth and Beyond (New York: Basic Books, 2003) p.7-8

COSMIC PERSPECTIVE
A plethora of thoughts tumbled through my head as I painted Drone Spiral 2. I do not have space to write about them all here - plus it would make for a long winded post. However, regular readers will identify that the viewer enjoys a cosmic perspective - my favourite perspective. The viewer is not caught in the spiral, but is, in fact, witnessing it. Have you fallen away from earth too or have you deliberately propelled yourself, in imagination, to a vantage point where you can turn the surveillance back onto the technology? 

What do you see? What do you dream? What to you imagine?


  • Drone Spiral 2 is another cosmic landscape, and a dronescape.
  • I've depicted a pale blue dot in many of my recent paintings. This references the famous photograph taken in 1990 by Voyager 1, as it started to leave our solar system. its camera was turned off soon after, to preserve energy as it departed on  its interstellar journey. Carl Sagan's sage words are an inspiration.



Drone Spiral Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Cheers,
Kathryn

Friday, February 02, 2018

IN THE STUDIO - AND - OFFICE

Various oil paintings in my studio aka: garage.


I have been busy in the studio and my office over the last months, and weeks. 

The photo above shows some of my recent oil paintings, done over the last 6-7 months - the one on the easel is underway. Since completing my Master of Philosophy [Art History & Cultural Studies], University of Queensland, I have returned to my oil paints - with gusto. While I undertook the degree I painted only on paper. I did this because a work on paper is easier to leave and come back to. [see photos of works on paper below].

RESEARCH
As regular readers know, my academic research included examining the various legal, ethical and political issues surrounding contemporary militarised technology, particularly the airborne drone. Regular readers also know that I examined various technical aspects of weaponisable airborne drones - not a normal art historical approach! However, I believed this kind of research was very important. Why? To equip me with specific information to assist my visual analyses of paintings, that depicted aspects of contemporary militarised technology, by Australian artists George Gittoes and Jon Cattapan. 

The stimulus for my academic research came from my interest in existential risk posed by emerging technologies. When I was offered the post-graduate degree opportunity, I knew I wanted it to include a multi-disciplinary approach. I wanted a major part of my research to feed back into my studio practice - even though the degree was not a practice lead degree. The research into ethical, political and legal issues surrounding contemporary militarised technology is valuable, but the technical research into weaponisable airborne drones and their capabilities, has been pivotal.   



Preparing Powerpoint for presentation in San Francisco 


VISUAL POLITICS
While I was at the University of Queensland [and I still am, as a Honorary Fellow in the School of Communications and Arts] I became involved in a fascinating and burgeoning research area in International Relations - Visual Politics. As a result of meeting many thoroughly interesting and knowledgeable people, I have been included in a few activities relating to Visual Politics. 

One exciting opportunity is being on a panel "War Art: Museums, Militarisation and Militantism" at the International Studies Association annual conference in San Francisco in April. The photo above is an image of my preparations for this conference. As I wrote in the first line of this post, I have been busy in my office too. 

There are a few other opportunities likely in New York and London - will keep you posted once I have details. 


 Various larger works on paper - Dronescapes


Various smaller works on paper - Dronescapes


AUSTRALIA
In light of recent statements by the Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell, about Australia's readiness for increasingly autonomous weapon systems, and news about the Australian government's $3.8 billion underwriting to boost arms exports, I invite you to read a post I wrote in September 2016 Aeropolitics Imagined. This post includes two paintings of the Australian continent - and - drones. I will leave you to take a look!


NEWS

  • Another article about my paintings has just been published, this time in The Culture Concept. Please read  Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Reach for the Sky: Art Above. The writer, Carolyn McDowell places my work into art historical contexts, but also draws out its contemporary relevance. Thank you The Culture Concept!

  • Early alert: Cosmological Landscapes solo exhibition at Dogwood Crossing, Miles, Queensland, Australia: 28 March - 22 May. It is well over two years since my submission was accepted and the show is nearly here! More news about the show coming soon. 
Cheers, Kathryn







Thursday, January 25, 2018

FOLLOW ME, SAYS THE TREE

Follow Me, Says the Tree Oil on canvas 61 x 76 cm 2017


Regular readers know of my interest in the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life symbol. Follow Me, Says the Tree combines my interpretation of a tree-of-life with a few of my other interests. These include thinking about how landscape is mediated in the 21st century - the age of cyber and digital technologies, drones, perpetual war and the 'everywhere war'. 

The tree-of-life is a symbol of life - for the existence of life. But, how is human existence affected by accelerating developments in technology, particularly surveillance technologies and weaponised [or weaponisable] technologies? In other words, those technologies that deploy scoping capabilities to monitor, surveil and target. 

SCOPING
I attempt to reveal invisible scoping signals, transmitted and received by airborne drones. I do this to demonstrate that landscape is insidiously mediated by new but unseen signal topographies. These new topographies not only mediate landscape, they also influence, to a greater or lesser extent, how humans operate and live in the landscape and environment. For example, in some places in the world - war and conflict zones - loitering airborne [often weaponised] drones create a persistent fear of the sky. This fear is fueled by a drone's ability to quickly turn from monitoring and surveillance to scoping to target - for a kill. 

I have written this previously, but in an age where Voyager 1 travels in interstellar space, to have people on planet Earth afraid of the sky is an indictment on all of us. I will leave you to think more about this. Indeed, there is a lot to think about!

FALSE EYE - FALSE CLOUD
In Follow Me, Says the Tree I have depicted an eye painted in the sky. Its pupil in a shade of night vision green. It is an unblinking false eye, with 'lashes' that appear to be more like components from a computer circuit board. The signals that radiate from the eye penetrate through a surveillance net which is scaffolded by a night vision green CLOUD* - a false cloud. 

The eye is clearly not an eye, with all the connotations of human sight, insight, imagination, vision, dreaming, tears and laughter. The eye is a subterfuge - it is not an eye-in-the sky - it is a SCOPE-IN-THE-SKY. It  targets its prey with a precision that is aided and abetted by persistent surveillance.

TREE - OF-LIFE
However, what of the tree? It also penetrates the net of surveillance and the CLOUD, by reaching upwards towards the stars. It re-establishes perspective - the kind that can take humanity's endeavours into interstellar space. The tree's branching appearance contrasts with the clean lines of surveillance and targeting signals. Randomness, or seeming randomness, is presented as a complex decoy - but isn't that just LIFE! The tree not only erupts through the surveillance net, it also send roots underground. Where there's life there's hope it seems to say. Follow me, and life and existence will be ok. 

But, while life may continue into a contested future, it may not be human. 

There is more to say - I know! Again, I will leave this up to you. 


                                                NEWS

  • I was asked to write a visual essay for Dialogue: Taking Politics Outside the Box, an e-journal located in the School of Political Science and International Relations, University of Queensland. New Landscapes in the Drone Age was published last week.
  • Early alert: Cosmological Landscapes solo exhibition at Dogwood Crossing, Miles, Queensland, Australia: 28 March - 22 May. It is well over two years since my submission was accepted and the show is nearly here! More news about the show coming soon. 
  • I am on a panel "War Art: Museums, Militarisation and Militantism", to talk about my paintings, at the International Studies Association annual conference in San Francisco, in April. 
  • Plus other exciting events are planned in New York and the UK. Shall keep you up to date as things fall into place. 


Cheers,
Kathryn







Thursday, January 18, 2018

CLOUDS - BEAUTIFUL ONE DAY: UNREAL THE NEXT

Fig 1. Beautiful One Day: Unreal the Next Oil on canvas 30 x 40 cm 2018


NEWS

I was thrilled to be asked to write a visual essay for Dialogue: Taking Politics Outside the Box, an e-journal located in the School of Political Science and International Relations, University of Queensland. Excited to say that New Landscapes in the Drone Age was published this week.

CLOUDS?

The new landscapes I refer to in my visual essay [mentioned above] are not just those of the land, but also the sky and space. In the drone age, in some places around the world, the sky is colonised by loitering drones -  nodes-in-the-sky, not eyes-in-the-sky - and the invisible signals they receive and transmit, to and from land and space-based assets. That airborne drones can, in many instances, quickly turn from surveillance to attack mode, makes the sky a militarised contestable place, a potential battle-space that extends from land, into the atmosphere and beyond. 


Fig 2. New Clouds Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Drone Swarms 

Recent developments in drone swarming technology* multiplies the impact of the scoping nature of drones. Technologists, roboticists, AI developers, and others associated with drone and autonomous systems research, study animals, such as birds and bees, to examine swarming and group behaviour. Nature provides insights, and researchers, using algorithmic processes, attempt to create systems that mimic nature's characteristics. Machine learning means that more advanced robots/systems can also learn as they interact with each other and 'experience' the world around them. Airborne drones are essentially flying robots, with increasingly autonomous systems embedded into their various functions.

I am interested in how landscape is mediated by drones and their invisible signals. I write about this in my visual essay New Landscape in the Drone Age. In this post, however, I focus on drone swarms, and the potential mediation of the skyscape.

The recently released short 7 minute film Slaughterbots presents a future where swarms of autonomous micro drones are used to control populations. Whilst fictional, it is stressed at the end of the film, that we already have the technology to create these deadly things - it is just a matter of time. Please read my visual essay A Droned Future response to Slaughterbots.  

So - to clouds.

Beautiful One Day: Unreal the Next [Fig 1] is a painting of clouds. Or is it? Positioned with some of my other recent paintings, the clouds may not be clouds at all! In New Clouds [Fig 2] and Swarm Clouds Brewing [Fig 3] you can see why. In these two paintings drone swarms attempt to mimic clouds. They camouflage themselves by mimicking nature, not only in swarm operation, but also in the subtleties of subterfuge and survival. 

But, you, the viewer, might be above the drone swarm-clouds, or you may be below them - maybe both places at once! Anything is possible in a quantum world. Your human vision, taking imaginational cosmic perspectives, turns the surveillance back onto the scoping camouflaged drones! Their subterfuge is revealed - exposed.

However, in New Clouds [Fig 2] one drone is targeted and attacked in a fiery blaze. This event leaves its mark on the skyscape. But, the significance of drone swarming technology is - if one drone is 'taken out', the others can re-calibrate and continue on their mission - whatever that may be. Therefore, taking one out seems futile...

False clouds?

So returning to Beautiful One Day, Unreal the Next [Fig 1]. The title of the painting plays with you...unreal could mean literally not real, or totally UNREAL-AMAZING-FANTASTIC-AWESOME! 

Maybe it means both? The game of disguise, camouflage, subterfuge working well...



[Fig 3] Swarm Clouds Brewing Oil on Canvas 36 x 45 cm 2017 


I am also interested in how clouds are used as a descriptive metaphor for THE CLOUD, which is not actually a singular entity, but rather, a series of mammoth data storage and processing systems - super computers. These systems built from physical hardware are, in fact, not housed in vapor, but in solid bricks and mortar behemoth buildings. 


But, that's another story, for another day!

Cheers,
Kathryn

* If you are keen to know more about drone swarming technology, just google it. There is a lot of information.



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

COSMIC DREAMING: SIMULATION? (EXO-PLANETS)

Cosmic Dreaming: Simulation? Oil on linen 31 x 56 cm 2018


Continuing with my 'pale blue dot' interest, I introduce you to Cosmic Dreaming: Simulation? (Exo-Planets). 

EXO-PLANETS
I was thinking about recent discoveries of potentially habitable exo-planets [example NASA site] orbiting distant stars. And, I was thinking about the unlikelihood of humans retreating to alternative planets outside our solar system in the near future, let alone the not-so-near future. That there might be life [of some kind] on these distant exo-planets is certainly intriguing though. 

But, with regards to humans travelling in space, getting to Mars is difficult enough! Plus, Mars will be obliterated, along with the rest of our solar system, when the sun reaches its final demise in around 4 billion years. So, staying within the solar system is doomed! Getting to Mars, though, is a stepping stone for all sorts of reasons. 

I was also thinking about the urgent need to look after the planet we do call home - Earth. We need to look after the planet, its non-human inhabitants and ourselves in order to sustain life. No good having escape plans, to set up home on an exo-planet, if we perish before we develop technology that will allow us to retreat elsewhere. But, this may be our fate...

SUSTAINABILITY - DREAMS - SIMULATION
While I was thinking about planetary sustainability, I was also thinking about simulation and dreams. 

So, is my painting an image from a dream, where alternative habitable planets, other 'pale blue dots', offer tantalising refuge for a beleaguered human species? Or, is the painting an image of a simulation, perhaps a game...a way to dupe us into thinking there are alternatives? The painting is not a game though.

Regular readers know of my interest in contemporary militarised technology, ubiquitous surveillance and increasingly autonomous weapon systems. While Cosmic Dreaming: Simulation? (Exo-Planets) does not refer directly to weapons or surveillance, it is linked to my dronescapes. It is linked by the cosmic perspective I take in many of my paintings. This perspective allows the viewer to fly. For example, in Cosmic Dreaming: Simulation? (Exo-Planets), are you above, below or beside the three pale blue dots? Are you on another planet, or in a spacecraft? Or, are you a spirit, a ghost from the future, maybe 10 billion years time - long after our solar system existed? Or perhaps you are a downloaded mind transmitted, ad infinitum, along an energy wave of some kind? Are you caught in some kind of simulation? 

VISION
As a painting, Cosmic Dreaming: Simulation?(Exo-Planets)offers many alternative interpretations. But, for me,  the power of human 'vision', in all its permutations - sight, insight, imagination and dreams - is an overarching consideration. This painting is, therefore, a resistance to the insidious infiltration of technological scoping, disguised as 'vision'. 



HERE ARE A COUPLE OF OTHER 'PALE BLUE DOT' PAINTINGS


       
Look again at that dot. (Sagan) Oil on linen 23 x 29.5 cm 2017



                                              Showing Them Our Home Oil on linen 30 x 56 cm 2017



Cheers,
Kathryn 




Wednesday, January 03, 2018

A CURIOUS JOURNEY - WITH PAINTINGS


Mountains and Metaphors oil on linen 80 x 200 cm 2005


   
   Queensland Landscape (Unreal) Oil on linen 50 x 90 cm 2017



In this post I have chosen four paintings I painted over a decade ago and four very recent paintings. I have coupled one older painting with one recent painting. These paintings resonate with each other, in uncanny ways, across the years. In fact, I found quite a few that did this, but four from 'then' and four from 'now' are enough. 


                              UNREAL LANDSCAPES - METAPHORS


So, above, I have posted Mountains and Metaphors and Queensland Landscape (Unreal). There are twelve years between them 2005 - 2017. And, I can tell you, I was not thinking about Mountains and Metaphors when I painted Queensland Landscape (Unreal). Yet, maybe at some subliminal level I was, because there are obvious visual connections. What I can tell you is that both paintings are inspired by the Bunya Mountains, part of the Great Dividing Range that winds up the East coast of Australia. The Bunya Mountains cut a majestic silhouette against the expansive rural Queensland skies of my childhood. I lived on a flat treeless plain where the mountains in the distant east beckoned with sculptural monumentality. The western horizon offered no such aesthetic - it was flat and endless, mirages often merging landscape and sky into one. 

Looking at these two paintings at the beginning of 2018 is an interesting experiment for me. Given that I referenced mountains as metaphors in the earlier painting, there is a kind of unreality attached to the image. This unreality is expounded in the later painting, where I question our experiences with landscape in a world mediated by technology. 

A mountain, when standing at its foothills, is a metaphor for something to overcome. However, when at the top of the mountain, it acts as something not only overcome, but revelatory. From the top you can look towards a new horizon, and back to an old one - horizon being a metaphor too! But, what happens when the mountains are simulations? 



BEING POST-HUMAN?


Braid Oil on board 90 x 60 cm 2007 


Imagining the Post-Human Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016





I don't paint many portraits, well not obvious ones. But Braid (above) is a self-portrait, not of my face, but of the back of my head, and my long plait. Oh, and my heart too! Just over ten years ago my hair was a lot browner than it is now! My long hair is one of my distinguishing physical characteristics - apart from being very tall. 

I was looking through my paintings and it struck me that my 2016 Post Human series of works on paper, feature a 'figure' with a heart, or a simulation of a heart. The binary code accompanying the figures suggests some kind of simulation, proxy, or downloaded data. 

Am I painting myself as a post-human, my hair standing on its ends in horror, or is it excitement? The code 00111111 'screams' a question mark loaded with many questions. Why? How? Am I ok? Am I lonely?

Below, I Am A Post-Human  seems to have an answer!



My Future Post-Human Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016


I Am A Post-Human Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016

01001001 00100000 01100001 01101101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110000 01101111 01110011 01110100 01101000 01110101 01101101 01100001 01101110 00101110



 SHARED SYMBOLS



 Forever Connected Oil on linen 120 x 80 cm 2008


Crossing the Rubicon Gouache on paper 76 x 56 cm 2017


Forever Connected and Crossing the Rubicon both feature a tree-of-life seemingly reaching to the heavens. The tree-of-life is an age old transcultural symbol. It is shared by the three Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In Forever Connected I wanted to demonstrate the power of symbols to draw people together - I certainly experienced this when I exhibited in Abu Dhabi in late 2005. The conversations I shared, on a daily basis, with people from all over the region were triggered by my paintings where the tree-of-life echoed across the ages. 

With Forever Connected I was also referencing the story of Moses and the burning bush - the bush on fire, but not consumed by it. This story is also shared by the three Abrahamic religions. 

Looking at Crossing the Rubicon and Forever Connected together, I see that fire also links them. This has come as a surprise observation. The fire in Crossing the Rubicon indicates the impossibility of turning back. I've written more about this in my post for Crossing the Rubicon



PULSE - BYPASS - LIFE SUPPORT?



Earth's Pulse Oil on linen 80 x 200 2005


Space Net Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Earth's Pulse and Space Net , painted 12 years apart, aesthetically resonate. The Earth, indicated by the round shape in both paintings, hovers in a cosmic landscape. Various signals or vibrations transmit to and from Earth. In Earth's Pulse these 'transmissions' seem to be cosmic forces, rhythms of the universe. In Space Net I was thinking about signals netting the planet, ricocheting from node to node, and occupying space using node-satellites.

Space Net speaks to the increasing prevalence of surveillance and monitoring technologies. Whereas, Earth's Pulse speaks to our hearts - in fact, in Abu Dhabi a male visitor to my 2005 exhibition at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, stood in front of this painting for a long time. He was a huge man, dressed in white robes - I am not sure which part of the Middle East he came from. He turned to me and said "This painting reminds me of my mortality."

Maybe Space Net indicates a kind of planetary life support, or heart bypass scenario - metaphorically speaking?


EXPERIMENT
This experiment in searching for resonances between paintings created years apart has been really interesting for me. One could say that the present is always evident in the past, but there are other thoughts too. I hope you have enjoyed this uncanny - perhaps curious -  journey. It will continue!

Cheers,
Kathryn

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

SHOWING THEM OUR HOME


Showing Them Our Home Oil on linen 30 x 56 cm 2017


Here's me with my three daughters. They are all adults now. We hover in space as we gaze upon Earth - a pale blue dot - home. 

An experience with perspective - temporal, spatial, metaphoric.


Looking back upon my role as a parent, there are many things I consider important. One is that as a significant adult in a young person's life, whether parent or other, the role of introducing them to the world, our Earthly home and universal environment, is up there on top of the list. One could say that birth is an introduction to the world, and yes it is, but as time goes by, the world is a continuously unfolding mystery. 

There are many ways to introduce someone to broader terrains and ideas. For me, engaging perspective - literal and metaphoric - transcends distance, and in doing so, imagination and compassion are ignited. In catapulting a person from one point of view to another, the world and oneself, dances the rhythm...one minute up close, the next flung to a distance - at one instant close enough to feel breath, the next flung so far away that features disappear - exposing a much bigger picture.      

Polymath Grandmother
My maternal grandmother D. E Ross - a polymath - knew the constellations and planets. She would take me and my two younger brothers out into dark nights, to show us various celestial entities. In Western Queensland there was no light pollution, thus our night skies were [and are] truly wondrous. As a child I was interested in my grandmother's impromptu lessons, but as an adult I look back and recognise a special introduction to the world, our universal one. I wonder if my interest in far horizons and cosmic perspectives was spurred by my grandmother's urgings to look up and wonder.

One of my daughters  has shown a keen interest in space, the outer-space kind of space. She has attended one of the International Space University's Summer programs, held in Adelaide, at the University of South Australia. As a law graduate, she has interests in how current and future legal frameworks will cope with issues such as mining on other planets/moons, space travel and so on. Her impetus comes from a concern for humanity, but also the environment beyond Earth. Maybe discussions about my cosmic paintings, and the things that influenced them, worked their way into my daughter's consciousness? An introduction to 'our world', the universal one, via art!

OUR - our
When I showed my daughters Showing Them Our World  they all understood it. The 'our' in the title is not only about us as a family, but all of humanity - the collective OUR. This latter sentiment is truly conveyed by Carl Sagan's words in his book Pale Blue Dot (1994). I have a number of pale blue dot paintings - inspired by perspective, Sagan's words and the famous photograph taken by Voyager 1 as it started its exit from the solar system in February 1990. I recently wrote a post about a few of my pale blue dot paintings. You can read more at this link Pale Blue Dot - Planet Earth 

It is unanimous - all four of us - this painting is never for sale. 

Cheers,
Kathryn