Saturday, December 26, 2015

EXO

 Exo Gouache and watercolour on paper 21 x 30 cm 2015


EXOPLANET
'Exo' a prefix, has Greek origins. It means external, outside from. In the last few years I have been introduced to the word exoplanet, which is a planet that orbits another star ie: it is outside our solar system. Astronomers have discovered quite a number of exoplanet candidates, which then go through further analysis before they are confirmed as exoplanets. Of these a small number are considered to be orbiting in the habitable zone of their host suns. To be considered as potentially habitable, the planet must orbit in the Goldilock's Zone ie: not too hot nor too cold, thus the possibility of an environment that may support human life. Or, the other tantalising possibility is that an alien life may exist on these planets.

Previous exoplanet posts!
Super Earths
New World Habitability: Vacation Anyone?
Entrance

EXODUS
'Exodus' is a noun, again with Greek origins, that means a mass departure of people...to somewhere 'outside of' or 'external to' a place of origin. The discovery of exoplanets has some people dreaming of alternative planetary 'homes' for us humans. For example as the Earth tumbles towards its demise, whether human induced or not, maybe there are places we humans can escape to? The only problem is that identified potentially habitable exoplanets are a looooong way from Earth, with present propulsion technology delivering us there in multiple hundreds of thousands of years. We'd need to develop speed of light travel to drastically reduce travelling time...let alone various other issues.

Previous 'Exodus' post:
Home

EXO
My painting  Exo [above] could be of an exoplanet, but then again it could be something else that's outside or external...but from what? Maybe it is another universe? Maybe it's inspiration, freedom, a speck of dust, a thought...waiting to be grasped?

Yes, Exo it is one of my cosmic landscapes that can be 'read' as something vast at the same time as something intimate. By playing with perspective I try yo give a sense of movement or travelling...perhaps a speed of light kind of travel?


Exodus Gouache and watercolour on paper 34.5 x 44 cm 2015

EXODUS
In Exodus I imagine humans having to flee Earth to take up 'residence' on a distant planet....an exoplanet identified as welcoming! In this painting a person is glued to their computer, while a rocket takes off with a flight path that sees it traverse space before 'leaving' the known to venture into the unknown beyond the painting. 

Here's a 'haves and haves not' scenario for you! I imagine that some people will be chosen to leave and others will be convinced, through simulation, that they are also to leave. But, because life has become a simulated 'experience' they are unaware that mortal death actually awaits them. I wrote this short poem a couple of years ago for my Flick of a Switch post: 

It’s time for Earthlings to flee their dying planet. Another home had been prepared. The ships have been built and one by one the people come, ready to embark.
The nervous excitement soars as count-down is commenced.
The last few seconds... 3-2-1
Blast off!
A sensation of flight.
For some, the simulated experience is so comforting that mortal death arrives before they realise it.
For others ...a new life!

___________________________________________________

Exo and Exodus are part of my ongoing series looking into the future of humanity, ideas of untethering landscape from Earth-bound horizons, posthuman futures, age-old symbols and more....
Please check out some of my recent posts: 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A POSTHUMAN 'HABITAT'?

I am Am I? Gouache and watercolour on paper 30 x 42 cm 2015


This new painting [above] follows on from some other recent paintings where I have incorporated binary code. 

In I am Am I? I have repeated binary code 'instructing' the words I am, I AM, Am I?
These 'instructed' words exist outside some kind of portal which maybe a destination or possibly it's a place of departure...a place already left behind? Yet, you can still see, although faintly, the markings of this place under the dark blue. Maybe the blue is a sheath that co-exists in parallel with what seems to be a  more colourful world beyond? Maybe this sheath is another kind of 'habitat', one where downloaded minds, in a posthuman future, might 'exist'. This sheath could be some kind of a sophisticated superconductor, holding everything together? The small trees, my interpretations of the age-old transcultural/religious symbol of the tree-of-life, are reminders of human embodied existence. I have placed them alongside the binary code to indicate that they are also 'code'. In a posthuman future the tree symbol may embed  a  'code' that simulates human feelings, emotions, desires and more? 

If minds are downloaded for an 'existence' in a posthuman future surely questions about I would be significant...but then again maybe not...hence the ????

So...these downloaded minds may have 'left' the world glimpsed through the portal. Maybe it was the only way to escape some kind of apocalyptic situation that threatened the extinction of humanity and the annihilation of Earth? But...maybe this has already happened and Prof Nick Bostrom's theory that all of existence is a computer simulation run by posthumans is a realistic idea? You can read all about his theory HERE

The place seen through the portal maybe the past or possibly the future.

What do you think?

As you can tell, I am having fun with these new paintings. 

And, yes...this is another painting that I would call a cosmic landscapes!

Other recent posts and paintings are:

Cheers,
Kathryn
www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

TWO HUMANS - UPLOADED

 Two Humans: Uploaded Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2015


NEWS

On February 4th 2016, in Adelaide, South Australia, I am part of a panel discussing 'Space and Popular Culture'.

This public event is being hosted by the International Space University and the University of South Australia’s ‘Southern Hemisphere Space Program’. It will be at 6 pm, at the BH2-09 Lecture Theatre, City West Campus, Adelaide. Click HERE to visit the public events page and register.


HUMANS - POSTHUMANS

I am having fun with my code paintings. Regular readers will know that a few of my recent posts have explored code and text in my work.

I was reading The Tranhumanist FAQ  by Prof Nick Bostrom, founding director of the the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford,  a couple of days ago. I was particularly interested in the section on Posthumanism ie: What is a Posthuman? This sentence grabbed my attention "Posthumans could be completely synthetic artificial intelligences, or they could be enhanced uploads [see “What is uploading?”], or they could be the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound augmentations to a biological human."[1] When I read this pictures started popping into my head. I then went to What is uploading? and again pictures cascaded into my mind. [2] You do have to read What is uploading? because it is totally weird, interesting, mind boggling as well as scary. I first encountered the idea of uploading minds onto sophisticated computer systems a couple of years ago, when I heard the American futurist and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku speak. He postulated that an uploaded mind could travel through space and time on light beams...I suppose some kind of laser. Yep, when he said that guess what I saw in my head...congested space with uploaded minds tripping around on vacation-like jaunts.

In What is Uploading?  [page 17-18] various ways of mapping, scanning the brain and its components to enable uploading are discussed. Then there are questions about whether person-hood would be destroyed, whether the biological brain would be destroyed by a uploading process, whether a body is actually needed and much more...including the possibility of back-up copies! This next statement got me thinking "Tricky cases arise, however, if we imagine that several similar copies are made of your uploaded mind." [3]

Now...to my paintings. 

In Two Humans: Uploaded I've painted/instructed in the word Human in binary code, twice. I've used multiple colours to give my humans some kind of nuance, personality, individuality. Both of my humans seem to hover in space, but then again the background may be the inside of a computer or a generated simulated environment, which would require even more code. But, it could also be space too.

This painting could be one of my cosmic landscapes...maybe a posthuman landscape...a post Earth landscape. This sentence from What is uploading? really got me thinking Back-up copies of uploads could be created regularly so that you could be rebooted if something bad happened. (Thus your lifespan would potentially be as long as the universe’s.) [4] Why did it get me thinking [well apart from the obvious weirdness of it]? Because, if we could have a 'lifespan' as long as the universe's then Earth will have reached its demise in the death throes of our sun long before the universe reached its own ending. Thus, I imagine uploaded minds tripping around space, exploring its expanding parameters, long after our Earthly anchoring landscape no longer existed...except in the 'memories' of the uploaded minds [of course!]. I wonder if they'd 'feel' nostalgic, or a sense loss, anger, frustration...? Whatever, they might 'feel' I imagine them forming a kind of scape within the fabric of the universe!

But, my two humans are not necessarily two separate humans...for indeed one could be a backup! I know, I know... the colour sequence does not match/mirror, but maybe this is deliberate? Maybe its more like an upgrade potential?

My painting Two Humans [below] again has the instructing binary code. But, there is no atmospheric background, except for the smudging drifts created by water dragged through the paint. Does this mean some kind of corrosion or instability? Ye gads, imagine 'being' an uploaded mind that existed in a corroded or unstable manner with no backup or compromised ability to access backups, where 'consciousness' was still 'sensed' but nothing made sense. Would it mean an eternity of madness? Would there be safety switches, abort or self destruct mechanisms?

Ultimately endings cannot be avoided....................................................

But, I am having a contrary king of fun painting code.


Two Humans Gouache on paper 24 x 32 cm 2015


1. Bostrom, Nick. The Transhumanist FAQ http://www.nickbostrom.com/views/transhumanist.pdf  : 5.
2. Ibid. 17 - 18.
3. Ibid. 18.
4. Ibid. 18. 


Previous Post
HUMAN LANDSCAPE


Cheers,
Kathryn
www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com 

Sunday, December 06, 2015

HUMAN LANDSCAPE

Human Landscape Gouache on paper 66 x 30 cm 2015


Firstly: Please click HERE to read my latest newsletter - Christmas greetings and studio news. 


MORE TEXT AND CODE
This post follows on from my last one Text and Code where I wrote about my interest in using text, but also binary code. I am interested in the latter not only for the 'instructional' capacities of binary code, but also to tease out its aesthetic possibilities, in juxtaposition with other symbolic and representational elements...such as my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life and landscape.

Human Landscape
So...in this post I have uploaded my latest work on paper Human Landscape  [above] where binary code instructs  Human and Landscape. The string of binary code takes on a horizon-like appearance, as does the word Landscape. I am playing with a number of things though. In this algorithmic contemporary world our lives are influenced by code on a daily, if not minute by minute, basis. Some would say that our lives are determined by it eg: travel, banking, email, social media, new media art, data collection and more. There's also an interest in how the body, embodiment, phenomenology and the human sensorium are possibly envisaged, manipulated, eroded, enhanced, transformed, alienated by the digital world. So, in my paintings I am keen to explore ways to expose code, possibly transform it, maybe enhance it or even erode its invisibility, by making it visible. This visibility is not provided by the digital but by the human hand...extracting code from normally 'clean' and precise looking presentations. There is a contrariness in my desire to paint code...it's fun.

Human Landscape is a triptych, like I Am Am I ? in my last post. And, because both paintings are made up of three separate parts, they can be arranged in different combinations. I am not precious about their arrangements, because new stories may emerge. But, the arrangement of Human Landscape as seen above, for me at least, tells a story about the connections the human body has with the land. When we die, whether buried or cremated, our body returns to the land, in some way or another. And, ultimately when the Earth is savaged by the death throes of the Sun, our remains, every human ever born along with our Earth, will be scattered across space, returning to star dust. Thus, I have painted a human figure as if it is the land, with its legs and arms extending into river-like or horizon-like trajectories. The tree-of-life is growing out of this 'embodiment' of land transforms the figure into a kind of root-like connective element too. For me the small tree creates perspective, not only visual, but also temporal. The bottom image, for me, is the future. 

Regular readers will identify that Human Landscape is also a cosmic landscape, and part of my quest to untether  ideas of landscape from Earth-bound horizons.

The painting below Coded Landscape is another 'landscape' where I have used binary code to create the impression of maybe mountains or possibly some kind of structure seen from above, maybe a track, a billabong or even....the remnants of landscape in space?


Coded Landscape Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 2015


I have previously painted landscapes with text. Here are a few:



This is a Landscape Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2001

In This is a Landscape I have written landscape over and over again, between the tree trunks. 


          Works on paper from Here Comes The Bride exhibition at Soapbox Gallery, Brisbane, 2003
  Text included painting middle row second from right. This painting is called Bride in the Landscape


The images above and below show a small selection of the around 70 works on paper I exhibited in my solo exhibition Here Comes The Bride held at Soapbox Gallery, Brisbane, 2003. The exhibition had a sub-theme of the bride in the landscape. I included text in a few of the paintings. I warn you , the text is a bit dark, but the paintings are essentially about the body being embraced, or possibly consumed, by the land. These paintings were inspired by my observations of country women...those women who often literally work the land, along side their farmer husbands/partners, but also the women who give so much of their spirit to rural communities. These women often sacrifice, not only material things, but companionship, culture, education. Yet, many try to encourage these things to occur in their communities. I've witnessed this first hand.....participated in it too.


        Works on paper from Here Comes The Bride exhibition at Soapbox Gallery, Brisbane, 2003
                                         Text included middle row middle and top left.


Below is another example of text...but also another kind of code ie: the $ sign. This painting is called Earth For Sale and is painted entirely with small $ signs, which are not discernible form a distance, however, they become evident when the painting is viewed up close. As I have previously written this is a deliberate ploy on my part, to provoke the necessity for close scrutiny as well as taking perspectives from further away. This dance back and forth is like a cosmological dance with perspective. 


Earth for Sale Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2008

Cheers,
Kathryn