Friday, November 20, 2015

PICTURING THE POSTHUMAN

Picturing the Posthuman Gouache and watercolour on paper 30 x 42 cm 2015
 
 
NEWS
 
I am very excited to let you know about a scholarly article which has been published about my paintings Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Paintings 2002 - 2010 by Dr. Christine Dauber [PhD. Art History]. The article has been published online at the innovative PANOPTIC PRESS
 
To whet your appetite here are two quotes:
 
It must first be understood that in these latter paintings, Brimblecombe–Fox is not so much concerned with landscape painting per se, but in a Warburgian sense, searches for the universal connections, or common ground between people, races and religions. In doing this she searches for a means to overcome the violence that exists in and between barriers to cultural understanding. Dr. Christine Dauber [PhD. Art History].

and

Similarly, in relation to Brimblecombe-Fox’s more recent work, the description “contemporary landscape artist” can actually  be deceiving, for although she still uses elements and images that are drawn from nature such as a tree, a leaf or an island, she travels in new dimensions as she expands her concerns with the landscape into global questions on ecology and world harmony. Dr. Christine Dauber [PhD. Art History].


PICTURING THE POSTHUMAN
 
TRANSHUMAN and POSTHUMAN
I have been thinking about posthumanism, transhumanism, existential risk posed by emerging technologies, artificial intelligence...especially real concerns about autonomous weapons, such as weaponised drones with artificial intelligence decision making capabilities ie: requiring no human input. AND, I have been thinking about how to convey some of these ideas in painting, without being merely illustrative or providing an 'artist's impression' like a scifi image.
 
Posthumanism is a kind of end point of transhumanism, which is where humans and machines merge. Transhumanists believe that the human is compromised by biology. They propose that technology can alleviate biological limitations and enhance things like intelligence. They aim for 'singularity'. But 'singularity' could mean that  there's no body at all. The ultimate cleansing! And, definitely posthuman! An example is: downloading minds to be algorithmically encoded for an eternal unembodied 'existence'. However, I'd say the posthuman label could be applied well before the body became completely obsolete. You can find interesting information at the Humanity+ site and Nick Bostrom's site, Ray Kurzweil's site - then you are on your own...
 
I find all this absolutely fascinating! 
 
PAINTING
And, my dogged interest in creating paintings that 'speak' of these fascinating, but also concerning issues, is a contrary one!  Painting, with brush and paint like I do, is not hi-tech. What can something that sits outside the contemporary technological frame generally, and new-media frame specifically, provide? For me...it reminds me of being human.
 
So, to Picturing the Posthuman  - here is a painting that seems to offer two choices, but in reality it is much more complex than that. The spiral of binary code repeats the word 'resurrection'. It implies that a posthuman existence, such as the downloading of minds, could be classed as some kind of intent to resurrect 'life'. The small tree...yes, my transcultural religious tree-of-life is surrounded by colourful dots, that could be stars, thoughts, other small, but indiscernible trees? At the outer edges there are random zeros and ones, indicating the present day world where technology influences lives. Like two galaxies about to collide, this painting presents a tense situation, but not necessarily recognised as such. Another way of thinking about the painting is that two worlds exist, one where existence is an ordered posthuman future, the other where technology has become self propelling out of the control of humanity, representing a chaotic posthuman future. But then...who's to say this is not already the case? I am sure you can think of a few scenarios for this painting too...I've certainly got more...
 
The cosmic background suggests time...time to make decisions...or that it is time to make the right decisions. As cosmologist and astronomer Lord Martin Rees, stated in his 2003 book 'Our Final Century' 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 Century: 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



Cheers,
Kathryn
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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