Thursday, November 08, 2018

BEWARE THE SHADOW

Beware the Shadow Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm 2018


As a metaphor, the shadow represents the dark side. 

In my painting Beware the Shadow a shadow drone appears to be armed. The dark side, armed!  Does this mean that the shadow reveals the truth, that the white drone is weaponised with concealed technology that can target and kill? Does the shadow reveal a blindness to reality? In Beware the Shadow, the weapons are metaphors too.

If you stand back from your screen, this painting appears very 3D!


I have previously written about drone shadows, for example, Shadowy Drone Play and Drone Life Shadow Play


 Drone Life Shadow Play Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016


Shadowy Drone Play Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016



Cheers,
Kathryn




Thursday, November 01, 2018

PAINTED ALGORITHMS

 Coded Landscape Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 2015


Recently an AI generated portrait "Portrait of Edmond Belamy" was sold at Christies for nearly 45 times the expected amount. The work sold for over $400,000. You can read about it on Christies' site HERE . A collective called Obvious is behind the production. This is the first time an AI generated artwork has sold at a major public auction. The portrait and the sale have generated a lot of discussion [do Google it]. The fact that the product was promoted and sold by Christies certainly assisted its news worthiness and perceived value.

The AI program was fed "with a data set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th century to the 20th." (1) From my understanding, machine learning processes detected patterns in formal portrait characteristics. These then assisted the program to formulate a portrait which is meant to look human-made. This end-product is then printed onto a canvas. 

If you Google 'AI portrait', 'Portrait of Edmond Belamy' or other searches, you will find more information. You can then make your own critical judgments.


PAINTED ALGORITHMS
For a few years I have included painted algorithms, albeit simple ones, in my paintings. In this post I present a selection of these paintings, including some posthuman figures/portraits.


                                              Unseen Oil on linen 90 x 80 cm 2015


Strings of 'instructional' binary code help me form my paintings. These strings introduce colour, contour, shape, but they are also subject matter, complex subject matter. For example, binary code instructing the word LIFE forms the landscape contour in Coded Landscape [top]. Subject matter is multi-faceted - code, landscape, life. As a landscape, LIFE, depicted in code, poses questions about life in the era of the algorithm, the age of simulation - the 21st century. What is real and what is not real? 

Unseen [above] depicts a tree of life, one branch cascading around the canvas. This branch is a string of colourful binary code repeating the word LIFE. That instructional code is normally invisible is the key to this painting [in fact all of my 'code' paintings]. In Unseen, I have exposed code by hand-painting it in multiple colours. Each zero and one is different, not perfect. Human touch and gesture presents a subversive exposure! Rather than pretending to be human made, it actually is!

In Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell [below], painted binary code for LIFE is targeted by an airborne weaponised drone. The drone's signals, exposed as radiating lines, detect and target LIFE. But, there is a twist, is LIFE easily targeted because so much of it relies on digital devices, cyber networking, online services and so on? The Grey Eagle drone is 'decorated' with binary code 'instructing' DRONE. Again, what is real, what is simulated, what is unreal?



Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2016



CODED POSTHUMAN FIGURES AND PORTRAITS


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

A portrait as a question mark?

"So - in My Future Posthuman I've painted a figure with tree-like appendages, a multicoloured heart and a head shaped like a question mark - but the question mark is formed from two rows of binary code 'instructing' the word 'Human'. Hence, the question mark!" From my previous post My Future Posthuman 


Imagining the Posthuman Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016


This posthuman's spine is binary code 00111111 'instructing' a question mark ie: ?

The posthuman's head is a tree?



Is This a Post Human? Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016


Vascular System for Post Humans Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016


Vascular System for Posthumans actually has a 'face'. Two eyes, or are they two zeros? The 'vascular' system is coded with a repeated question AM I ? Certainly a portrait is something that is meant to disclose something about the AM I ? type of question.

Am I  - what - who - where?

Cheers,
Kathryn















Wednesday, October 24, 2018

MISSION CAPABLE LANDSCAPE

Mission Capable Landscape Oil on linen 72 x 137 cm 2018


EXPOSING SIGNALS
In Mission Capable Landscape I continue with my interest in exposing signals that wrap the planet, extend into the sky and space. I 'see' these invisible signals as a new layer of landscape, volumetrically occupying and colonising landscape from land into space. In the 21st century, signals operatively enable militarised technology, such as airborne drone surveillance, targeting and attack. Additionally, the dual-use nature of technological infrastructure, such as communication and GPS satellites, blurs military, policing and security activities. I am interested in not only militarised technology, but also militarise-able civilian technology. The latter includes such things as mobile phones, appropriation of social media data, and cyber technology used in homes and businesses. 

Thus, at the extreme, all signals are militarised or militarisable. If a system is deliberately isolated from general connectivity, this action demonstrates a defensive position that co-opts it into the militarise-ability of security. 

MISSION CAPABLE LANDSCAPE
In Mission Capable Landscape I have painted a landscape overlaid with lines. These lines mimic various signalling, scoping and targeting graphics seen on computer screens, such as those of a remote drone pilot. The lines mimic perspective, layering, bridging, fences, furrowed paddocks, roads, landing strips and more. Note the scoping cross-hairs fixed on the green circle [centre left]! At one instant the viewer may feel like a remote pilot, at another instant maybe even a drone, even a satellite. Are you coming into land, are you leveling on a target, are you simply surveilling and collecting data? What are you scoping? Is it all real? 

However, let us take back the human gaze! Let us turn human surveillance back onto the occupying signals. Let's expose them - for all to see!

HYBRID WAR
As I painted Mission Capable Landscape I was thinking about a lot of things, including the notion of hybrid war. What is hybrid war? It is a military strategy that tactically blends conventional methods of war with activities such as perpetrating cyber threats, manipulating of social media, de-stabilising elections, infiltrating government online infrastructure for essential services, promulgating fake news and so on. Contemporary hybrid war needs networked systems and inter-connectivity to enable its tactics. It needs signals! It is a subversive act to expose them!

HYBRID LANDSCAPE
In a sense Mission Capable Landscape is a hybrid landscape. There is more than one landscape in this painting, including the conventional one and the new landscape of signals. The latter stealthily colonises and occupies the conventional landscape cloaking it with a persistent readiness for offensive and defensive actions. Are we perpetually, and everywhere, in a state of low grade war? A war that can be amplified when triggers are hit. The conventional landscape is rendered permanently 'mission capable' by its virtual non-identical 'mission capable' twin. Conventional landscape, and all its living creatures, are held hostage - it's just that we do not realise it. A creeping occupation of landscape by invisible signals is actually hard to detect - what an insidious strategy! That's why we need to expose them!

But, is there a vulnerability lurking within the new landscape of signals? I argue that its vulnerability may lie within its strength - invisible speedy networked inter-connectivity. As its networking insidiously weaves layer upon layer of enabling signals it presents as an invisible but impenetrable ubiquitous force. But, is it? 

What can we metaphorically or literally unplug to expose its underbelly? I leave you to think about it.


Cheers,
Kathryn
* I have previously written about being taken hostage by signals HOSTAGE
  


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

DRONES - NO DRONES - DRONES - NO DRONES: ONLINE EXHIBITION



PLAYFUL EXERCISE?

This online exhibition is an exercise, playing with the positioning of images. 

I have placed a weaponised airborne drone painting, then a non-drone painting, one after the other. 

What happens when I position paintings that do not depict drones or indications of their presence with images of weaponised drones? Are the non-drone paintings of trees-of-life, Australia, and the sun, colonised by the drone images? Or, do the paintings depicting trees-of-life, Australia and the sun remind us of life in the face of  destructive technologies? In a sense, do they combat the drone images? 

If you took the non-drone paintings away from the images of weaponised drones, are they different paintings? Without a militarised context, do they lose agency or gain it? Or, if you have seen them positioned with the paintings depicting militarised technology, can you ever forget - unsee?

The last two paintings depict human figures, Through the Mist of Time and Forever Watched. The latter does not depict a weaponised drone, but it does indicate surveillance - or does it? As I placed these last two paintings, I saw that Through the Mists of Time could provide another perspective for Forever Watched? What do you think? 

COSMIC LANDSCAPES
All the paintings are landscapes - cosmic landscapes, landscapes where you too can fly. This poses even more questions, but I will leave them for you to ask.

All the paintings in this post are from 2016 and 2017, and they are all gouache on paper. 

Cheers,
Kathryn



 Across Time and Space



 Persistent Surveillance and Strike

 Run Off


Future and Past

 Anomaly Detection

 A New Sun, A New Day - Somewhere






Sunday, October 07, 2018

FALSE LAWN: VIRTUAL LANDING STRIP

False Lawn: Virtual Landing Strip Oil on linen 71 x 91 cm 2018

YUVAL NOAH HARARI AND LAWNS
I am reading Yuval Noah Harari's massive book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Quite early on in the book he has a section titled "A Brief History of Lawns". In this section he explains why lawns are associated with "political power, social status and economic wealth". The well kept green lawn at the "entrance to private residences and public buildings was born in the castles of French and English aristocrats in the late Middle Ages. In the early modern age this habit struck deep roots, and became a trademark of the nobility." He goes onto describe how lawns indicate land ownership and that well maintained lawns indicate the ability to pay for upkeep. The adoption of the lawn in the nineteenth century by the rising middle classes entrenched its cache. Harari also gives a brief insight into lawns and sport. 

Additionally, Harari makes observations about the contemporary adoption of impressive lawns in the Middle East, using Doha in Qatar as an example. I have witnessed the greening of places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi with, for example, acres of green golf courses and large gardens framing massive and luxurious hotels. This greening is enabled by desalinated water and irrigation technology. From the air the patches of green end where the irrigation stops, and the desert takes over. 

THE GREEN GLOW OF NIGHT VISION
But, while Harari's discussion of the history of the lawn got me thinking about the various lawns I have known, I started to think about the virtual lawn, the green screen, and scoping with night vision surveillance technology. Night vision devices intensify existing light, converting photos into electrons, which are then re-converted to photons by a phospher screen imbedded in the device. This screen is coloured green because the "human eye can differentiate more shades of green that other phospher colours". 

Whenever I see a photograph or a film where night vision devices show us the saturated green glow of surveillance, I am struck by a mismatch between the colour green and the danger that is often conveyed. 

FALSE LAWN: VIRTUAL LANDING
False Lawn: Virtual Landing, was inspired by Harari's short history of lawns, and my reactions to it. The metaphor of the green lawn applied to the saturated glow of night vision green provides a novel approach to analyse contemporary militarised power and its structures. In the painting the green screen replaces the lawn, the night vision green saturation providing new indicators of power and economic wealth. Not only new indicators, but also new kinds of power wielded through networked digital and cyber technologies that operate at near light speeds. 

In the painting an airborne weaponised drone appears to be attempting to land, co-ordinates assisting the process. The window/screen is central to a space of action and speed, a cyber superhighway perhaps? I quite like that the painting could be a vast landscape/cosmicscape, or a peek into the interior world of signals. 

I can think of lots more to write, but I will leave it up to you to ponder more.

Cheers,
Kathryn  



[1] Defense Industry Daily, Through a Glass, Darkly: Night Vision Gives US Troops Edge, accessed August, 26, 2016,
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/through-a-glass-darkly-night-vision-gives-us-troops-edge-06047/More information is available at Stanford Computer Optics, Image Intensifier: Phosphor Screen, accessed August 30, 2016,

Thursday, September 27, 2018

LETHAL LANDSCAPE: FALSE HORIZONS

Lethal Landscape: False Horizons Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm 

In Lethal Landscape: False Horizons I have again tried to expose signals that enable interconnected militarised and militarise-able systems. Signals that ricochet around the world, into the sky and space are invisible, yet they net the planet. I 'see' this netting as an insidious new topography which colonises and occupies landscape in ways that transform environments. Horizons are obliterated by this volumetric occupation, yet false horizons appear on computer screens as lines that map and orient for surveillance and targeting purposes. 

In Lethal Landscape: False Horizons a ground-based satellite antenna sends a signal into space, while another signal is either sent or received by a weaponised airborne drone. The drone's wide area surveillance sends out rays of signals, making the drone look almost like a star...a false star. Other markings indicate a landscape infiltrated by multiple arrays of signals, including targeting signals. I have painted a few areas with small red or green squares, to mimic pixels that make up digital images. These areas either indicate a process of pixelation or perhaps de-pixelation - of reality returning or reality disappearing. Here, let's think about Paul Virilio who died earlier this month "matter is now being exterminated by means of acceleration, the specular bomb of screens, those mirrors of time that cancel out the horizon." The original Accident, trans Julie Rose (Cambridge UK, Malden US, Polity, 2007), pp. 49-50.

Cheers,
Kathryn

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

NOT WAITING FOR THE FUTURE

Not Waiting for the Future Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2018


SPEED AND ACCELERATION
With accelerating developments in technology, including militarised or militarise-able technology, the future seems to be hurtling towards us. This is happening at the same time as technology's operative speeds are also accelerating. Here, for example, think about near-lightspeed transmission or processing of data via networked, always on, systems. How do human beings, living in human dimensions of space and time, keep up with accelerating developments and processes that 'play' in dimensions of space and time that are beyond our sentient or experiential reach? 

One domain that is attempting to keep up is the military. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Surely, in attempting to keep up, the military is absorbed into the processes of speed and acceleration. Arguably, this is an ingredient for an arms race - the word 'race' indicating speed! But, if a nation's defence forces do not address the acceleration in technological development, and speeds of technological operation, their duty of care to defend their citizens and allies could be compromised. 

LETHAL AUTONOMOUS WEAPON SYSTEMS
Discussions and debates about the use and development of lethal autonomous weapon systems [LAWS] have been taking place each year at the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [UNCCW] since 2013. LAWS are weapon systems utilising machine learning and artificial intelligence, thus enabling various levels of decision making to be made by the system. UNCCW Meetings have occurred in April and August this year - 2018. Debates about what meaningful human control means, preemptive bans on LAWS development, LAWS and International Human Rights Law and more, have been discussed. 

But, the worry is that these debates and discussions, occurring in human dimensions of space and time, cannot keep up with the actual speed of LAWS development. The Future of Life Institute in its report on the April 2018 UNCCW meeting commented,The UN CCW is slated to resume discussions in August 2018, however, given the speed with which autonomous weaponry is advancing, many advocates worry that they are moving too slowly.

The Australian Chief of the Army, Lieutenant Rick Burr, recently released a "Futures Statement" titled Accelerated Warfare. This statement briefly outlines the Army's response to issues posed by the future of war; a future where technology offers new ways of warfighting, new types of warfighters, as well as new dimensions/terrains in which warfighting will occur. The complexity of war, dispersed across multiple domains and capabilities, now and into the future, enhances the challenges faced by the military. It also presents potential heightened risk in an age where research into existential risk posed by emerging technologies warns us of potential civilisation collapse or human species demise. * 

NOT WAITING FOR THE FUTURE
The Chief of the Army made a statement in Accelerated Warfare that sparked my imagination. He wrote, We must pull the future towards us rather than wait for it; My painting Not Waiting for the Future was inspired/provoked by Lt Gen Burr's statement. I have previously written that rhetoric surrounding the 'future of war' militarises the future. Certainly the future is a dimension already inhabited by anxiety, if not strategy. 
In Not Waiting for the Future I have flipped the continent of Australia to indicate a kind of flipping of time. A satellite and an airborne drone occupy the sky/space, along with an array of signals. A cross-hair target is positioned over central Australia. Red and white dots appear to perforate the continent, perhaps indicating invasive signals, or the presence of other targeting devices. Or are they indicators of Australian defence systems aimed in all directions? 
This painting is another of my droned landscapes or militarised landscapes. It is also a cosmic landscape that propels the viewer to perspectives beyond the immediate. With cosmic perspectives the occupation of land, sky and space, by signals that enable the operation of militarised or militarise-able technology becomes apparent. Is this a future-scape? if so, is this a future we really want? 
But, what if this future has already arrived?

________________________________________________


* If you are interested in research into existential risk posed by emerging technologies, please start here, at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, The University of Cambridge. 

Cheers,
Kathryn

Sunday, September 09, 2018

OPERATIONAL LANDSCAPE

Operational Landscape Oil on linen 41 x 56 cm 2018


SIGNALSCAPE
Operational Landscape is a continuation of my interest in exposing what I call the 'signalscape' of the 21st century. This invisible 'signalscape' enables the operation of networked and interconnected digital and cyber systems - including systems that are militarised or militarise-able. I have spent many hours painting landscapes that are netted by signals, with skies occupied by weaponised drones and satellites hovering in space. I have come to realise that signals, ricocheting from node to node, from land to sky and into space, create a persistent readiness for offensive and defensive activities - an ever-present readiness for war. 

It was with great interest that I read the Australian Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Richard Burr's recent Accelerated Warfare statement. In this statement he maps out a future trajectory for war and how Australia might respond to accelerating developments in warfare. The statement places emphasis on technology. This quote below is particularly pertinent re: my painting Operational Landscape:


"Threat. Our operating landscape is changing – adversaries, including violent extremist organisations and state-based threats can now control and influence all operating domains. The advent of rapidly evolving, easily accessed technology increasingly offers asymmetric capabilities to both established powers as well as non-state actors and even individuals. The ability to sense and strike from long range as well as swarming low-cost technologies are increasing the vulnerability of major military systems. Future strike capabilities will not just be physical but also digital, executed often at the speed of a mouse-click."


OPERATIONAL LANDSCAPE
In Operational Landscape, an ambiguous  but colourful landscape oscillates between appearing to be land-based and sky/cosmic-based. Are you looking down upon a landscape or up towards a tumultuous sky or are you looking into a landscape of  mountains, river, grassy knolls and sky? This play with perspective, is a visual ploy I use regularly in my work. I like to think it generates surprise, imaginational involvement and ultimately a critical stance. Lines seeming converge somewhere. That they are operational is evidenced by the cross-hairs set against the dark terrain. Whether you are above or below the signals, the occupation of volumetric landscape - from land, to sky, to space - is inescapable. There is a sense that geography offers no hiding place in the era of the algorithm, the epoch of netted signals, and the age of the unmanned drone - the 21st century. 


Please also check out:


NEWS

My painting New Horizons is a finalist in the $30,000 Tattersalls Landscape Art Prize. The exhibition of paintings will be on public view from Sept 10 until Sept 21, at Riverside Centre, 123 Eagle St , Brisbane, Queensland, Australia: weekdays 7am - 6pm.

All the finalist paintings can be previewed HERE

Congratulations to the winner of the prize as Kate Shaw, with her painting The Grandparents -1928, The Gorge.


New Horizons Oil on linen 97 x 112 cm 2018


Cheers,
Kathryn