Wednesday, June 17, 2015


 Maybe Off Limits? Mixed Media on Paper 21 x 30 cm 2015

These three works on paper all have titles that ask questions, so I thought I would 'curate' a mini online exhibition called Questions. Over the years I have painted other paintings that are also titled with questions, but these three paintings here will be included in my forthcoming bricks-and-mortar-gallery exhibition, CODE .

I like the idea of teasing out mini-themes within a larger exhibition and as I was sorting out images for my CODE catalogue I realised that these three works on paper ask questions which relate to humanity leaving planet Earth, to re-settle somewhere else in the Universe. For example, settlement on Mars is a serious consideration, with plans for human colonisation.

There are many reasons for why humanity's exit from Earth is proposed. One is simply driven by human curiosity, desire and explorative excitement. Other reasons relate to questions about the sustainability of Earth and threats to existence that may force a need to escape.


'Leaving' Earth does not have to be physical! For example, there is a proposition that in the future we will be able to download our minds onto a computer or robot. A downloaded mind could travel on intergalactic trips, developing memories and even 'sensing' the experience as if physically participating. The downloaded mind could 'outlive' the physical body, taking the identity into forever-land.

Can We leave? Mixed Media on Paper 21 x 30 cm 2015
Leaving Earth, both physically and as a downloaded mind, certainly poses many practical, ethical and philosophical questions that relate to the meaning of life and existence. Even downloading one's mind is a kind of 'leaving' in itself. Code becomes the form of departure. But, would there be a way of return, a rescue pathway if needed? Could we retrieve our mind from the downloaded entity?
So, what could be off limits? The painting at the top is called Maybe Off Limits? One of the round planet-like balls has lines, like bars, painted across it. Initially this suggests that maybe this place is off limits because of a hostile environment, unsuitable for human habitation. Yet, what if the bars are across Earth? And let's go a bit deeper....What if these round shapes are not planets, but symbolic of ideas?
The middle painting Can We leave? again has a round shape with security-like bars painted on it. Is this Earth, with security bars keeping us safe, forcing questions and possibly mitigating hasty decisions? Or are they prison bars, keeping us locked away? But, here's another question, is the round shape symbolic of mind, where the bars could be seen as both/either security or prison bars. What if this round shape is a downloaded mind 'travelling' through the universe long after its physical harbour has died and Earth has been annihilated? And, that leads me to the question Where to Now? the title of the painting below.

Where To Now? Mixed Media on Paper 21 x 30 cm 2015
Where To Now? is a painting of the future. It poses crossroad-type questions. The choice of route determines outcomes. Research into existential risks warns that we, in the 21st century, are at a crossroad. The decisions we make now, especially with emerging technologies, will determine the future in serious ways that will affect planetary survival.   
Oh boy...heavy stuff!
Yet, I love the contrariness of using painting as a way of posing questions about the pursuits of technology. For me, painting keeps me connected in ways technology cannot. In my imagination I leave Earth all the time! And, in a way, all my imaginings are 'downloaded' into my art...

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