Sunday, August 21, 2016


 Strategic Landscape Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Broadly speaking the term 'strategic landscape' has both civilian and military connotations. The word 'strategic' signposts that agendas are inherent. These agendas deal with issues such as safety, security, economic advantage, future intentions and mitigations, demographics and so on. The use of the word 'landscape' can either refer to a literal landscape [eg: currently occurring issues in the Sth China Sea] or a metaphoric one [eg: political landscape].

Regular readers will immediately identify my interest in the 'landscape' focus. As a painter of landscapes I am intensely interested in how we think about landscape, especially in a cosmological age. By this I mean an age where the close and far distances of the universe are being explored by a variety of the sciences, including astronomy, nanoscience, astrobiology, astrophysics, quantum physics and more. 

So, I ask, if we speak about 'strategic landscape' are we containing ourselves to planet Earth and its geopolitical 'landscape'? If we think of the universe as a 'landscape' can 'strategic landscape' be expanded to include questions about how we use space, space assets such as satellites, optimal orbits, other planetary assets such as potential mineral deposits? Will space become a contested place where a military 'strategic landscape' draws forth a future where conflict, defensive and offensive systems are developed and deployed beyond Earth's atmosphere? 

  • Google "strategic landscape - defence - military" or similar and you will see that the phrase is used by the defence departments and those who provide academic, political or journalistic commentary on international relations, peace and conflict studies and military activities.  

 My painting Strategic Landscape [above] uses the figure of the drone to symbolise the ubiquity of 21st century surveillance, monitoring, data gathering and targeting. The drone is a conduit connected to ground-based nodes as well as satellites. Thus, it represents the space between the landscape of Earth and the 'landscape' of space. In my painting the scoping 'rays' of the drone's camera cast pathways across and landscape of land and sky. Yet, the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life casts its twisted and connected branches across the land and sky too. The tree is multicoloured to symbolise the nuances of life that cannot be detected by the drone's scoping devices. Things like desire, humour and soul are embraced by the colour and held close - safe. The boxes and cubes, perhaps representing individual lives, float amongst the drones scoping rays and the tree's branches. They are coloured too and I wonder why? 

Maybe scoping, which I propose is implied in the word 'strategic', means that agendas contained in 'strategic landscape' imperatives miss a lot? 


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