Monday, May 23, 2016


Galaxy Strip Gouache an watercolour on paper 42 c 30 cm

I've been reading a lot about surveillance lately...especially about UAVs [unmanned Air Vehicles] otherwise known as drones.  French philosopher, Gregoire Chamayou writes about many aspects of militarised drones as surveillance and/or weaponised vehicles in his book Drone Theory. Fascinating and terrifying in many ways. 

The aerial view, though, is not new to me. I have for many years painted as I am the one flying above the ground. I've written about it before too - here is a sample of previous postings SUPER HEROES, MY LANDSCAPE AND SPAGETTIFICATION , FALLING OUT INTO IT.

Also, as a child and teenager I loved planning towns and suburbs as if I was the creator from above! Here's an example below of one of my teenage suburbs. 

Suburban design around late 70s.

The idea of technology infiltrating all aspects of our lives is an exponentially growing phenomena. Penetrating our private lives from a 'distance' that we do not understand is going on 24 hours a day. Yet, the images we see of Earth from space make us awe struck with the beauty of a perspective not readily available, unless you are an astronaut. There is nothing perplexing about this, unless you are an alien...perhaps! So, some kinds of surveillance provide pleasure and awe, whereas other kinds remain insidious and troubling. 

My new painting at the top Galaxy Strip combines a few of my interests and inspirations. Firstly creating this 'suburb' took me back to my teenage years when I wondered about the families who might live in the houses I designed. Secondly, though, as I painted this image I was hovering in my minds' eye much further afar than when I was a teenager. I was wondering about 'viewing' the galaxy as a series of habitats. So, whilst the strip of what looks like urban development might exist between vegetation zones, it might also be a metaphor placed against vast distance...the Universe. The strip of buildings or habitats seems to float above the background as if you could fly not only between and in front of things but behind them too. Yes, in my imagination I had gone way beyond Google Earth. 

Galaxy Strip  could be an artificial habitat created in outer space as an environment for humanity post-Earth? Indeed maybe a Dyson Sphere? It could be metaphoric galaxy? Or, it could be a suburb of Canberra, Australia's capital city - a city purposely designed, with green strips, lakes and more. 

I propose that aerial views in the 21st century take on a provocative energy that questions how far surveillance can go and how we might react to this. The downward gaze is repeated across the world as people gaze down to their phones, computers and iPads. As we gaze down, the surveillance from 'above' harvests our actions online, through GPS, imagery and more. Do we or can we notice? I wonder about this constant downward gaze! At worst it's akin to digging or wishing to dig an abyss - at best it's akin to navel gazing! 

What happens to a our ability to see multi dimensional perspectives where horizontal and upward gazes exercises our vision - literally and our minds - metaphorically?

Regular readers will recognise my interests in perspective, desires to un-tether landscape from Earth-bound horizons, cosmic possibilities, even the posthuman...and more.


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