Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WHERE THERE'S LIFE THERE'S...

Where There's Life There's... Oil on linen 92 x 102 cm 2015
 
 
In a recent post In Sight I wrote about an article Terminator Robots and AI Risk by Meia Chita-Tegmark. She is a PhD candidate at Boston University and a co-founder of the Future Of Life Institute, a research think- tank focused on mitigating existential risks, including those posed by human level artificial intelligence [AI].
 
Chita-Tegmark's article discussed how we humans 'embody' fears of artificial intelligence in the form of killer/terminator malevolent robots, often fantastically portrayed in science fiction movies. She suggests this is a misplaced fear, because the really frightening issue about AI is that it's mostly unseen...unseen code...strings of zeros and ones. She writes It's almost like we need to give our fears an embodied anchor or it's not scary anymore. 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. She goes on to say Evolution has not equipped us to deal with such ghostly entities that don't come in the form of steel skeletons with red shiny eyes, but in the form of menacing arrangements of zeros and ones.
 
 
So please read Chita-Tegmarks article  because....!!
it inspired my painting :
 
Where There's Life There's...
 
The painting is a landscape, but no 'normal' landscape. Why? Because it attempts to track the unseen code of life. Yep, that's it! Needless to say there are a few BIG questions. Is this code expressed by the tree, my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life, with all its spiritual, visceral, cultural, religious, biological, vascular-like, symbolic contingencies and more? All those things that propel life and we take for granted.
 
Or, is there another kind of code? If you look closely [see detail images below] I have repeatedly painted LIFE in binary code, as if it is an extension of one of the tree's branches. Remnants of the branch appear intermittently along the binary code's trajectory, until they no longer appear...or maybe are not needed?
 
More questions:
Is the code of zeros and ones attempting to mimic life? Or, is it attempting to replace life with something completely alien? Is its intent to augment life or hijack it? Does it even have 'intent'? Even proposing 'intent' gives AI human-like qualities and this maybe dangerous too.
 
Chita-Tegmark's description of menacing arrangements of zeros and ones does not, upon initial sight, apply the zeros and ones in my painting. My zeros and ones, I think, are quite beautiful and languid. They almost dance across the 'landscape' like a swarm of small butterflies. But, this is where the menace lies, don't you think? Mimicry is normally for seductive purposes and we humans certainly have been seduced by unseen zeros and ones...think of social media, data collection, online buying and selling and so much more. Zeros and ones re-purpose and control so much of our lives!
 
Simulation
Here's another perspective!
 
Maybe LIFE, as a string of zeros and ones, has propelled existence for Universal time? Indeed, Prof Nick Bostrom, has suggested that we are already living in a post-human simulation...yep...that all of existence is a computer simulation! You can read about his theory HERE  If this is the case, then the 'source' of life, in my painting, is the spiral of code feeding into the tree-of-life, which could be 'read' as a terrifically successful simulation.
 
I've previously written about Bostrom's theory in an earlier post called...CodeHe is also one of many other philosophers and scientists urging caution about zealous AI development. As the Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and as Director of the Oxford Martin Programme On The Impacts of Future technology [Both at Oxford University] he is at the pointy end of research into existential risk.
 
 
DETAIL Where There's Life There's...
 
Chita-Tegmark explains, in reference to unseen menacing arrangements of zeros and ones....
 
So, even if we do not feel the fear, we need to understand it.
 
I agree. And, suggest that art is a way of making 'visible' the unseen...not in a didactic or merely illustrative way, but in a suggestive, conversational and playful way, that provokes questions and wonderings.
 

   DETAIL Where There's Life There's...
 
 
Where There's Life There's...
The title of my painting plays on the old saying...Where there's life there's hope
 
BUT
 
MAYBE
The new 'old saying' is:
 
Where there's life there's code
 
Ok ...let's lighten it up a bit:
 
Where there's life there's joy - love - laughter - LIFE
 
I like to think the roots of my tree in Where There's Life There's... hold hopeful clues!
 
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You might like to also read:
 
 
 
NEWS
 
I went to the most marvellous stand-up comedy gig last week.
 
Happiness Through Science
 
I can honestly say this was one of the most passionate, intelligent, inspiring events I have been to in a long time. Robin was meant to perform for 90 mins, but he went way over time...and nobody minded.
 
 
 
MORETON BAY ART AWARD
Here's the painting that has been selected as a finalist for the Moreton Bay Art Award, packed up and ready to go. Actually the carrier has already been and it's on its way. The award is announced Friday 15 May.
 
 
 
Cheers,
Kathryn

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

Works on paper - In progress


I am waiting for a couple of oil paintings to dry before I continue with them. So I have returned to my works on paper.

And, painting on paper is a bit precarious sometimes. When a 'mistake' is made I have to really think about whether it is a point-of-no-return type of mistake or whether I could consider it some kind of 'divine intervention', like a message to disembark from my current journey to take a completely different one! If a 'mistake' is made with an oil painting, I ask the same questions, but oil paint and linen are much more forgiving when it comes to wiping out, redoing etc. Paper and gouache or watercolour paints do not allow for too much scrubbing, rubbing, painting over... and wiping out is impossible.

Given the different level of 'forgiveness' between oil painting and works on paper, it takes a little while for me to adjust when I go back and forth between the two, especially if there are long periods of time spent on either one. The way I fast track this adjustment with works on paper is to just go-for-it! I splash paint and water around, hang the paper upside down, drip other colours and generally have fun. The thing is though, I will end up ripping up over half of the paintings...but I quickly get into a groove that I feel happy with. Mind you...the special watercolour paper I use is not cheap, but I have to ignore that. Why? Because quality of materials are very important to me. Also, the good quality means I can be more brutal with water saturation, heavy handed brushing etc. Cheaper paper just curls up and almost dissolves!

In the photo above there is a selection of works on paper in progress. There are ten here in this photo and another ten or so drying elsewhere in my studio. Below is a photo of paintings further along the process. I have already ripped up a few by the time I've got to this point. And, I will be ripping up a few more! For example, I am not too sure about the one on the top left. It might have to go?

In the photo below some paintings are further along the process than others, but I keep them on view so that when I re-enter my small works on paper studio/room, after leaving it, I see them with fresh eyes. This is a tactic that I use with oil paintings too. Fresh eyes are important! Sometimes I will be unhappy with a painting, but when I walk away and return some hours later, I see things that I had not seen before. Sometimes a painting that had made me unhappy or uneasy 'speaks' to me in a way where I see a way forward. And, yes...there are other times when I just say to the painting...you do really have to go.


 
 
It Beckons [below] can be seen in the photo above. It's the small one in the middle bottom row. Since the photo above was taken I have worked a little more on this painting. I am happy...and the painting will probably be in my next exhibition in 21 July - 2 August here in Brisbane. But, time will tell how many of the other paintings will survive to be exhibited too.
 
 
It Beckons Gouache and watercolour on paper 15 x 21 cm 2015
 
 
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The above discussion sets the scene for a little chatter about a question I am often asked...
 
Kathryn, how long did it take to paint this painting?
 
A finished painting is actually not a sole expression. It is, in fact, a culmination of many successes and failures over a long period of time. Yes, as regular readers know, many of my paintings have immense detail and this does take a long time, but other paintings are not as detailed and therefore do not take long at all. Yet, these less detailed paintings would not happen without the preamble of thousands of hours of dexterous painting and thinking. With each painting I learn more about paint, surface materials and mediums such as water, turps and oil. A less detailed painting may strike a inner chord with me that culminates in another more detailed painting. There's a rhythm...
 
An artist's oeuvre is like a story where there are highs and lows, quieter moments and tumultuous ones, full stops, new paragraphs, exclamation marks, new chapters. An artist's oeuvre is like a symphony where different instruments create nuanced melodies, sometimes punctuated with points of immense emotion, both loud and soft. An artist's oeuvre is like an anthology of poems, where some poems are short and others long; where some rhyme and some don't; where different 'strokes', such as simile, metaphor, alliteration and more are used to emphasise, suggest and provoke.
 
So, what I am saying is that the question Kathryn, how long did it take to paint this painting? cannot be truly answered!
 
AND
 
One way to deflect from giving a mundane answer about actual time, is to suggest that any conversation a painting may trigger, whether it is with oneself or with others, actually 'finishes' a painting.
 
YES!
 
Paintings can potentially have a multiple of completions. There 'lives' extend beyond the studio and gallery in a dynamic way!
 
 
____________________________________________________________
 
 
UK NEWS
 
Friends have sent me the actual The Independent [UK] newspaper from March 7 where my painting graced the front of the paper's International Women's Day feature. Here's a photo below of the painting and the paper together.
 
The painting is 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
 
And, with reference to my post above and the question I am often asked ... you can take a guess!
 
Here's my post from March 10.
 
 
 
 
Cheers,
Kathryn
 
 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PARADIGM SHIFT

Paradigm Shift Oil on linen 40 x 50 cm
 
 
Way back when I was studying for my Bachelor of Arts degree, at the University of Queensland, I took a year long subject called The History Of Science. It was the most fascinating course, delivered by one of the best lecturers I ever had, Prof Mac Hamilton. In his lectures, which were more like discussion sessions because there were so few students taking the course, every idea and concept was intellectually stimulating. In essence the subject was a history of the philosophy of science and Prof Hamilton introduced us to an array of different approaches. The lock-step historical approach, that I was more accustomed to, was definitely not on the cards! This course had a profound influence on the way I viewed education and learning.
 
One of our text books was Thomas S. Kuhn's 'The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions' first published in 1962. We used the second edition, published in 1970. Kuhn's concept of paradigms and paradigm shift associated with 'scientific revolutions' intrigued me, even as a 19 to 20 year old. Over the years I have often returned to Kuhn's book. Taking the concept of a paradigm more generally, what causes major shifts in perspective, that then lead to new ways of thinking? Or, how do new ways of thinking, reveal new perspectives?
 
It's funny how the past sows seeds which may not flower until decades later. Regular readers will know where I am going with this! Yes, my intense interest in perspective! Yes, it's imbedded in a variety of my experiences, studies and ponderings. It is also something I learn about as I work through a painting. The process of thinking about a painting, then actually painting it, not only draws upon knowledge of all kinds, but also produces new knowledge, thoughts, insights...and perspectives.
 
PARADIGM SHIFT
This painting, like many of my paintings, is deliberately ambiguous. Yes, the title provides a departure point, but the painting offers a number of possibilities. The two red circles seem to hover. But are they above, in front of, below, immersed in the landscape-like background? Well, that's up to you dear reader to decide for yourself.
 
The red circles are similar to another recent painting called In Sight where  two red target-like circles/eyes help me play with and investigate words - 'In Sight' - 'Insight' - 'Incite' and connotations of gun sights, camera lenses and more. In Paradigm Shift the target/scope-like appearance of the red circle on the left suggests perspectives gained from peering into a gun scope, camera or micro/telescope... or any other kind of scope readers may think of.
 
 
http://kathrynbrimblecombeart.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/in-sight.html
Detail from In Sight Oil on linen50 x 70 cm 2015
 
 
Yet, as I write these words 'gun scope, camera or micro/telescope' I have physical and emotional reactions to them...each different and each multi-layered. The mention of the word 'gun' obviously conjures different feelings to the word 'camera' and again with thoughts of a microscope or telescope. However, each thing that the words describe enables targeting. But, as we all know targets can be missed, over-reached, under-reached and overexposed. What can targeting, accurate or not, metaphorically mean? The potential for 'revolution' exists in both accuracy and not.
 
The red circle on the right, takes on a target-like appearance, only by association with its accompanying red circle. If the other red circle was not there, the circle with the tree-of-life inside it, could be considered like a womb or a vessel. Well, it still can, but the presence of possible malevolence makes the tree-of-life, representing all of existence, more vulnerable. On the other hand, if the 'targeting' by the left red circle is the perspective of a microscope or telescope, the tree-of-life takes on a more positive cosmological metaphor.
 
Many commentators, from inside and outside the scientific community, suggest the 21st century is a turning point for our planet and humanity. Existential risk, from things like human-made technologies to natural space driven disasters, is now a serious concern and area of scientific study. We may have a choice now, but for how long...is the 'tree-of-life' vulnerable or not?
 
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NEWS
  • My entry in the Moreton Bay Art Awards 2015 has been selected as a finalist.
  • I have again been invited to participate in the $30,000 Tattersall's Club Landscape Art Prize. This is an invitation only art award, and I am thrilled to have been invited again. The award takes place in September.
  • Just in case you missed it, Kirsten Fogg, from The Belonging Blog, wrote a wonderful piece Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Visual artist and cosmic explorer about me and my work. I LOVE the title she gave the article, especially the cosmic explorer bit...
 
Cheers,
Kathryn
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

IT'S EVERYTHING

It's Everything Oil On linen 50 x 50 cm



Yes!
 
-
 
It's everything!
 
Every planet, universe, piece of cosmic dust
 
thought, blessing, emotion
 
Every drop of water, tear, atom
 
Desire
 
Object
 
Non-object
 
Every kind of scape, seen and unseen
 
Beginnings
 
and
 
Endings
 
-
 
Everything.
 
 
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My new painting posed some problems for me. I loved it, but what was I going to title it? I know I was thinking expansive thoughts when I was painting it, but the few title options I had come up with seemed too limiting.  And, Untitled seemed lazy and vacuous.

So, I was discussing my dilemma with one of my young adult children. After playing with a few title possibilities I heard myself say 'It's everything really...everything.' Ah Ha...I thought...there's the title! And, young adult 'child' agreed.............It's Everything


...............................................................................................................
 

Can you see everything?

If not, can you see multiple things or possibilities?

'Fly' in your imagination to places beyond, spaces inside. Skit around the peripheries...as if you are playing on the foreshores of the ocean. Allow the 'water' to take you, let the 'sand' swallow you, invite the 'sky' to engulf you...all at once!

Yes, regular readers will know where I am going with this...seeing multi-perspectives simultaneously!

As I have previously written, cosmology is imploring us to traverse new and exciting perspectives of close and far distances. The revelatory nature of dynamic perspective is promising, enticing, seductive...and a little scary and forbidding. Why? It might mean we need to change!


NEWS
  • My entry in the Moreton Bay Art Awards 2015 has been selected as a finalist.
  • I have again been invited to participate in the $30,000 Tattersall's Club Landscape Art Prize. This is an invitation only art award, and I am thrilled to have been invited again. The award takes place in September.
  • Just in case you missed it, Kirsten Fogg, from The Belonging Blog, wrote a wonderful piece Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Visual artist and cosmic explorer about me and my work. I LOVE the title she gave the article, especially the cosmic explorer bit...

Cheers,
Kathryn
www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com

Thursday, April 02, 2015

PERSPECTIVE - YES AGAIN!

Perspective Oil on linen 36 x 36 cm 2015
 
 
A SHOUT OUT
 
Firstly a shout out!
 
A wonderful woman called Kirsten Fogg has written a really terrific article Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Visual Artist and Cosmic Explorer about me and my work for her BLOG The Belonging Blog.
 
Kirsten explores what it means to belong- when, where, how - or not to belong!
 
 
A PROMISE
 
In my last post In Sight I mentioned I was working on another of my tree-of-life paintings.
 
Well...it got wiped.
 
Yes, another one of those paintings that just did not work out. But, as I wrote in an earlier post Sometimes Things Just Do Not Work Out  when things do not work out, it is simply part of the ongoing overall process of creation. Really... it's a bit silly to flog something, just to get it finished, when every time you look at it there's a sense that it's not quite right. In the act of annihilation, when you see it as part of a process, something else emerges. I've repeatedly found magic in these emergent places/spaces. The accidental, within a process, is often revelatory and refreshing. It forces a renegotiation, new insights, freedom even....and ...new perspectives.
 
PERSPECTIVE
 
So that brings me to the painting above Perspective. This is not the painting that emerged from my lost tree-of-life! In fact that painting is still emerging. You will get to see it some time in the future.
 
Regular readers know of my great interest in perspective, literal and metaphoric. I suggest we need to develop skills in seeing multi perspectives, even simultaneously. In the 21st century it's imperative because cosmological research is revealing more and more about our Universal, maybe Multiversal, environment. Launching our imaginations beyond earth-bound horizons, opens us to new perspectives of ourselves, our planet and the vast environment beyond. In doing so we also untether landscape. It is released from Earth to embrace trajectories and scales that force us to think differently about how we orientate ourselves. Even the discovery of Earth-like planets, orbiting in the Goldilocks zone around distant stars, forces us to think of landscape! Indeed, to imagine another habitable planet, and some say there's a case for super habitability, we draw upon our imaginations to conjure images of what these planets might be like. And, we imagine ourselves in these 'landscapes'! As we do this we begin to orientate ourselves within Universal scales. Landscape, imagined or not, is like a magic carpet which keeps us 'grounded' and seemingly provides safety.
 
The whole of the Universe/Multiverse, across all temporal and special scales, is essentially landscape...in the broadest sense of the word. We exist within this landscape of multiple scales, just as we exist within the known landscape of Earth. How we relate to and depict landscape orientates us not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. Identity is closely tied to landscape, whether it be urban, country, desert, the ocean...more often a combination brought together over time. As I have previously written, when we die we literally return to landscape. And, at some stage in the distant future, as a result of our sun's death throes, Earth will return to the Universe as cosmic dust.
 
My painting Perspective is a landscape, but unsurprisingly, an ambiguous one. Is the viewer above a landscape? If so, what kind of human-made features have formed a cross with a circle near centre? Maybe some kind of farming or mining landscape? But, rather than being above a landscape, maybe the viewer is looking through support strainers of a fence? Or perhaps scaffolding on a deep sea oil rig? Ah Ha! Maybe the viewer is looking out towards the night sky, whilst lying under a pergola? Or maybe looking through a telescope or camera?  Maybe it's a secret map providing clues to where golden treasure is buried?
 
Maybe the 'golden treasure' is the ability to see multiple perspectives...even simultaneously?
 
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A couple of other landscape posts: [There's heaps actually]
 
 
Cheers,
Kathryn