Tuesday, March 24, 2015


In Sight Oil on linen 50 x 70 cm 2015
In Sight
 Capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something
Regular readers know of my keen interest in perspective. Now...that word perspective has a plethora of possibilities associated with it. It literally means observations of or with sight, of pupil and eye-ball kind. But, it can also carry metaphoric associations of insight, of mind's eye kind.
I recently read a fantastic Huffington Post article Terminator Robots and AI Risk by Meia Chita-Tegmark, who is a PhD candidate at Boston University and a founder of the Future of Life Institute, which I have mentioned in previous posts. Using arguments that humans embody their fears in order to somehow render them less fearful, she foreshadows even more fearful outcomes if we persist in embodying fear of artificial intelligence in the form of robots, killer robots etc. She explains that artificial intelligence is not moving bits and pieces, but the unseen aspects of code, information, data Chita-Tegmark writes My fear is instead that, like with any representation that reveals some things and hides others, what the terminator robot reveals is simply something about our mind and its biases, while hiding the real dangers that we are facing. Further on in the article she says, But what is the price we pay for the sensation of fear that we need to nurture through embodied representations? I believe the price is blindness to the real danger.

Chita-Tegmark's article is a perfect example of insight founded in deep understanding and intelligent reflection. I would also say it is an example of someone with clear sight of where blindness may occur. With her knowledge and experience she has shifted perspective and provided humanity with an important warning, an invitation to also shift perspective. But, will we?

I suggest to change perspectives we need disruptive insights into human nature, such as those expressed by Chita-Tegmark. Makes me think of a word that sounds the same as insight...incite.
Please read her article and visit the Future of Life Institute website.

In Sight Oil on linen 50 x 70 cm
This painting plays with lots of my favourite things...perspective, ambiguity, landscape, cosmic clues. The only element missing is my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life! Wait till you see the painting I am currently working on though!

The landscape in In Sight is familiar, yet the colourful round balls cast a sense of the unfamiliar. They provide a cosmic clue that this landscape may not be Earth...but then again it might be? By questioning the landscape's locale it immediately untethers it from Earth-bound horizons, forcing a shift in perspective.

As I have written previously, I believe that in the 21st century cosmological age we need to re-think what 'landscape' is, what it means to us and how we represent it. If we can take 'landscape' into our universal/multiversal environment, the possibility of revealing new perspective of us, our planet and the universe/multiverse are possible. In shifting our perspective of landscape, we shift ourselves...well...we are part of the landscape, operating in its domain in a variety of ways! Imagine if we do not develop our sight and insight beyond Earth's familiar terrain...maybe it could become the domain of what Chita-Tegmark describes as menacing arrangements of zeros and ones. We could be left behind!

We may have already been...left...behind...?

In the painting, direct attention is drawn to the two balls with gun-like sights targeting them. Being caught in cross-hairs, literally and figuratively, is not a pleasant feeling. Yet, these sights need not be malevolent. They could be representative of telescopes trained on potential new planetary homes...but for whom? They could be camera lenses seeking out definition, a record of hope? And, yes they could also be malevolent!

Let's shift perspective...

I deliberately placed the two gun-like sights as if they were 'eyes' looking back at the viewer/s. But, are they human 'eyes' or maybe they are symbolic of Chita-Tegmark's menacing arrangements of zeros and ones, or maybe they are indicators of extra terrestrial intelligence...aliens! The sense of being 'watched' and recorded is pervasive in the 21st century. Think of the debates about our online behaviour, the data it generates and how and why it might be retained...and by whom or what?

In Sight Oil on linen 50 x 70 cm 2015 DETAIL

Yet, have I fallen into the trap Chita-Tegmark warns us about? Is my claim that the gun-like scopes are like 'eyes' just another embodiment of fear? Well, it might be...but I suggest that deliberate ambiguity, the plethora of things these 'eyes' could be and the play with shifting perspectives means I have not been caught in the trap. I'd like to think my 'play' may even expose possible cures for blindness. Maybe that's one of the most exciting things art can do? Maybe art has a capacity to incite change in unexpected ways?

Some related posts:
In Between Things: Interstellar Even
The Horizon Has Disappeared
Shared Landscape...In The Multiverse
The Value Of Landscape

For those of you who have not seen the news about one of my paintings being chosen for the front cover of The Independent [UK] newspaper's International Women's Day feature please check out my post Round Objects and UK News

My next exhibition will be 21 July - 2 August in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
I am playing with a few titles for the show...one is:


It suggests that artificial intelligence is in a list.
For me it's...
a list of

On that 'Cheery' note!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Future oil on linen 92 x 102 cm

Of The Universal 
And Maybe The Multiversal Kind
Regular readers know of my interest in existential risk. They also know of my fascination with cosmology. These two interests inter-relate.
Cosmology, the study of the Universe [maybe even the Multiverse], makes it very clear that we humans are new arrivals upon the trajectory of Universal/Multiversal time, space and distance. We did not exist for a very long time. The Universe is about 13.8 billion years old and we, Homo Sapiens, arrived in physical form only around 200,000 years ago...just a blip really! Check out the Big History Project's fascinating series Humans for more information.
So, we were definitely not around for a very long time. This perspective of the past makes our future seem quite vulnerable. How? There's no guarantee that the trajectory of the Universe/Multiverse will take us along for the full journey, whatever that may be. In the 21st century, a number of realisations and issues compel us to examine existence in different ways to existential ponderings of the past. Today, scientists, philosophers and a plethora of other thinkers and researchers, study the risk of real catastrophic risks that may lead to human extinction. These real possibilities include human-made and natural threats. The human-made ones are things like bio-terrorism, nuclear threat, rampant and uncontrolled artificial intelligence and much more. For further information on existential risks please visit Cambridge University's Centre for the Study of Existential Risk fascinating site and the Future of Life Institute in the USA.. You'll see that science fiction's parameters need to be re-negotiated to acknowledge that some fictions are now being considered as distinct possibilities, especially in the area of artificial intelligence..
A cosmological perspective of time, is humbling. If we humans want to stick around, we have to seriously think about our behaviour, abilities and the future. Apart from human-made risks there's the issue that our Sun will not exist forever. Yes, it's got about 4 billion years to go, but it will make life on Earth very uncomfortable long before its ultimate demise. Even without the other smorgasbord of risks facing humanity, our Sun will ultimately cook us or force us to leave to find another planetary home/s. Indeed, many thinkers including Stephen Hawking see humanity's continued existence as contingent upon an interplanetary settlement.
But, humanity's continued existence, does not necessarily mean we will be like we are now. For instance the need for interplanetary travel and settlement may mean forced mutations in order to survive. It may mean artificial intelligence integrates with us, so that downloaded minds 'exist' is physical forms that are not flesh and blood. I did say some science fictions need to be re-negotiated to the realms of possibility and thus serious research! If you'd like to read a thoughtful and detailed analysis of artificial intelligence check out The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis by David J Chalmers. Others fascinating thinkers to check out are Nick Bostrom and Jaan Tallin.
So to my new painting FUTURE
Yes, it is ambiguous! Regular readers know I like ambiguity. Well, I certainly don't have THE answers in order to be less ambiguous, but I do have questions, musings, wonderings. I am engaged and I have fun with this engagement. It's like playing in a sand pit, where the sand slips and falls, but as it does this, I am entertained, become thoughtful, and I learn.

Future looks cosmological. The Universe seems to open up, maybe like an eye? This 'eye' sees... at the same time as beckoning us forward into its glow. There's promise. For me it is both past and future, because the future is always present-as-potential in the past. Maybe that's the promise?

Even though Homo Sapiens appeared only 200,000 years ago, the birth of the Universe created the 'dust' that ultimately lead to life on Earth, including us. 'Dusty' connections back to the source, give hope that they continue, in some form or another, into the future. Indeed, even if we humans are cooked by a dying Sun, we'll return to the cosmos as dust...literally!

And, who knows where that may lead?

 Gate Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm 2011
Viewers have seen an eye is this painting too!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015


She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him. [Jamieson-Fausset Brown Bible  Commentary] Oil on linen 80 x 120 cm 2009
Previous post HERE

I know...the painting above does not have any round balls. However, it does have some NEWS from the UK.
She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him. [Jamieson-Fausset Brown Bible  Commentary] was the feature image on the front of UK's The Independent [March 7 2015] International Women's Day supplement.
Needless to say I am thrilled with the exposure. Also, thrilled because the opportunity came out-of-the-blue. LOVE! LOVE! out-of-the-blue opportunities!
And, I am thrilled that my painting was seen as a meaningful addition to International Women's Day 2015.

The painting is from a series of works themed to the Adam and Eve story. You can see more of them at Adam and Eve-and THAT Tree

Now to round balls.

Objects Oil on linen 85 x 147 cm

In my last post Objects I discuss the seemingly endless things the round balls in the painting Objects [above] could be. These range from the tangible to the not-so tangible.

I also discuss the painting in reference to the relatively new theory Object Oriented Ontology...OOO. I have links to info about OOO in the Objects post.

Regular readers may realise that I often use round balls in my paintings.

So, here's a mini online exhibition of some of these paintings for you.

Cosmic Landscape Gouache on paper 21 x 29.7

Cosmic Landscape is a new work on paper. I am playing with landscape...and regular readers know I like to do this. The round balls could be planets or moons. They could be human-made probes. Maybe alien spaceships? Unlike in Objects the balls are oriented within a landscape that is clearly identifiable as one. Yet, they appear to be floating thus giving a 3d appearance. Without the balls the landscape 'speaks' for itself. The balls, however, disrupt the landscape suggesting alternative narratives and possibilities. Maybe the balls are symbolic of these possibilities?

And...mentioning 3d...many of my paintings do 'go' 3d when viewed with 3d glasses. Here's a previous post where I 'discuss' 3d!

Landscape Of Everything Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2012

I wrote in my previous post for Landscape Of Everything [above]

When I was painting this image I had many many different thoughts going through my head, cascading in and out, provoking panic, excitement, fear, wariness, joy and more. There were so many thoughts that when I came to give the painting a title, nothing seemed adequate, until I came up with Landscape of Everything.
I go onto to write about all my thoughts...and you can read about them HERE. Maybe the balls are symbolic of the various thoughts I had when painting it?
Yet, even though the title has the word 'landscape' in it...there is no identifiable landscape. But, regular readers will know I am teasing out the possibilities of landscape across scale, dimension and time. Yes...untethering landscape from Earth-bound horizons!
This is a favourite painting of mine. Really happy with it...hurrah to the fellow who bought it!
Are We There Yet? Oil on linen 80 x 140 cm 2013

And, here are some blue balls! They seem to suggest a trajectory, as if a balloon has been let go. As in Cosmic Landscape there is an identifiable landscape, yet an ambiguous and unusual one. The title Are We There Yet? plays on that question children often incessantly ask on long trips...well they did when I was a kid and when my children were younger. Now though, I suspect portable and imbedded entertainment devices might distract children from noticing time. You can read more about this painting HERE

Multiple Choice Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm 2015

And...that brings me to another new painting featuring coloured balls...Multiple Choice

The title says it all really...don't you think?


Monday, March 02, 2015


Objects oil on linen 85 x 147 cm
Why did I call this new painting... simply... Objects?
Well, it's not really that simple! The title belies the possibilities.
Regular readers know that I like to 'play' with perspective, orientation and distance. I find a kind of compelling enjoyment in creating images that are somewhat ambiguous. I believe it makes people think, step outside their comfort zones, become more playful...wonder.
So, let's discuss Objects
Given that I have a great interest in Space...of the outer Space kind...you could think that the round balls are planets. With a cosmological view/perspective, the balls become almost endless in their possibilities. Well, that's what I think anyway!
What could they be?
They could be Universes...there is a tantalising theory that we exist not in one Universe, but in a Multiverse. I first read about the theory in Lord Martin Rees's wonderful book Just Six Numbers. I have since read a lot more about the various theories of a Multiverse and my thoughts appear in my paintings!
And, talking about 'thoughts'...the round balls could be just that...thoughts.
They could also be atomic or even subatomic entities existing in their own smaller-than-small 'environments'.  
They could be bits of cosmic dust, balloons, bubbles, endless full-stops! We could be looking through them or from behind, or from above or below...maybe all perspectives at once?
They could symbolise a plethora of things...philosophies, eons, the juggle of life.
And, of course the painting itself is a thing...an object...that has relational capacities not only with its external environment of other things, including us, but with its own plethora of possible visual depictions.
This brings me to OOO - Object Oriented Ontology, a new 21st century theory of things...a theory that everything is an object and that existence [the ontology bit] is about how things relate to things . Yes, we are a thing too, so not elevated to a significant otherness, but well and truly within the reality of thing-ness. Here's some extra reading for you Dr Ian Bogost's What Is Object Oriented Ontology: A Definition For Ordinary Folks and Dr Graham Harman's OOO blog Object Oriented Philosophy. Dr Harman is considered a founder of the philosophy.
Pale Blue Dot [After Carl Sagan] Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2014
Late last year I made a presentation at a OOO symposium called Seeing Things at the Queensland University of Technology. My presentation was called Cosmic Perspectives and I suggested that there is a fascinating correlation with the arrival of OOO and a rise in awareness and study of existential risks. I suggested that as existence is perceived to be more vulnerable to massive degradation or complete annihilation we have a need, albeit probably subconsciously driven, to restore reality from post-modern slipperiness to...well...realness. For example classing climate change as a thing/object, that embraces many other things/objects within its ambit, subtly shifts it from a kind of nebulousness to a more specific or 'concrete' state of object-hood. And, thus it seems easier to actually do something about a thing or an object! Think about the increasing number of articles written about possible doomsday outcomes of artificial intelligence, robots etc...from taking human jobs to deciding that we are not necessary! Many articles [you can Google] have been written about the loss of jobs; from doctors, lawyers, drivers to accountants and more. Yes, white collar, professional and blue collar. There's something very real about losing your job...and there's enormous anxiousness about mass career/job destruction.
Reality can be a sledge hammer! But, maybe we need the 'wakeup call'?
Now there's a thought...maybe the balls are dreams......?
After The Implosion  Some reflections upon Post-Modernism.