Between Existences Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016
Sometimes I feel the contemporary time we live in is actually a between-time. It's like humanity is on the edge of one kind of existence and another. The thing is - humanity may not be part of this other existence. But...it could be. I suggest it depends on how we navigate the contemporary space-time, the Antropocene. With my M. Phil research covering militarised technology, the development of autonomous weapons and current warfare and conflict, I am somewhat anxious about humanity's future.
Lord Astronomer, cosmologist and one of the three founders of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk [University of Cambridge], Martin Rees, wrote a fascinating book Our Final Century in 2003. It proposes a number of catastrophic events that could see the annihilation of the human species. These events are not necessarily naturally occurring ones. They include those the might ensue from emerging technologies, due to mistakes, accidents, getting into the hands of aberrant groups or individuals.
Between Existences [above] is a hopeful painting! The tree of life stands as a beacon in a cosmic landscape. The blue river-like mass could be the 21st century - a space between, a hiatus in human development, a touch and go period, a challenge.
BUT, the tree has sent its roots deep into time...they even extend beyond the painting, digging deep. There's hope for root suckers - root sprouts to revitalise existence! Yet, the blue river-like '21st century' also extends beyond the paintings. It also has root-like extensions...maybe they extend into other universes?
Trees-of-Life Vs The Drones Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016
Trees-of-Life Vs The Drones is similar to Between Existences in format - there is a top half and a bottom one too...a representation of a duality eg: humanity - technology, life and death, symbolism - fashion, reality and virtuality, time and space, civilian and military, war and peace. Yet, in this 'between time' of the 21st century dualities are blurred. Cultural theorist, Paul Virilio's commentary, on the accelerating speeds of technological interactivity, provides avenues to help us understand this blurring. With time and distance collapsed into near light-speed connectivity, dualities disappear, become unnoticeable, creating an inertia. Philosopher, Gregorie Chamayou's proposal that remote targeting and killing makes the whole world a potential manhunting ground certainly illustrates the blurring [hey! eradication] of the lines between things. Anthropologist, Hugh Gusterson's ideas about 'remixed war', as a result of militarised technology distributed through global networks that allow remote control and killing, exemplifies the collapse of the civilian-military divide. There's more...but I'll leave you to explore.
In Trees-of-Life Vs The Drones the weaponised drones look like an early computer game, little icons marching forward. The trees-of-life stand firm, their branches acting as an alternative network, outside the digital network connecting the drones. Note that there are two trees! AND, their roots are not evident - but they are there! I know, because I am the artist!