Saturday, November 26, 2016


$urveillance Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76.5 cm 2016

Surveillance is big business - the collection, storage, evaluating and packaging of data; developing and implementing surveillance systems of all kinds; developing and implementing security systems to thwart surveillance by known or unknown infiltrators; ensuring the delivery of cyber updates for ongoing security...and more.

The use of GPS and communications space assets [satellites] to enable civilian and military surveillance draws attention to the dual-use nature of contemporary technology. Regular readers will know of my interest in airborne drones used by the military for surveillance, targeting and attack purposes. Drone operations currently rely on both GPS and communications satellites. [Check out many of my recent posts for more on drones.]

In this large work on paper I have painted small $ signs to create emanating surveillance signals. I have done this to contest ideas of value. The 'value' flow goes up and down or from one place to another, demonstrating the financial gains delivered to the developers and operators of surveillance technology AND the 'value', to governments, advertisers, the military and others [malign and benign], of the collected data. Technology to collect data is like a 'data harvester' - the harvester collects the 'golden grain'. Yes, I am a farmer's daughter!

The small $ sign-signals could represent proxy rays of 'sunshine' - the new 'sun' in our new 'sky' of surveillance sensors! Yet, they could also represent the perspective of a 'ploughed' field - of data. Or, perhaps 'landing' lights on a 'runway' of data! The electromagnetic spectrum is the new techno-empire frontier!

The 'play' with perspective is a deliberate ploy - one I employ often in my work. The 'landscape' is undetermined and the viewer's orientation is also. Are you above, below, in front, or all simultaneously? 

Be aware!


Friday, November 18, 2016


HumanMachineHuman Gouache and water colour on paper 57 x 75.6 cm 2016


I am really interested in the intersection between humanity and technology. It's an intersection which is increasingly blurred.

I am particularly interested in human/technology relationships and developments in militarised technology, where guiding principles are focused on developing and maintaining supreme advantage over enemy forces. Modern soldiers are equipped with various devices that connect to other remote devices. These devices detect external events and environmental conditions, as well as monitor soldiers' physical well being. Soldiers are walking, talking, breathing nodes of information and detection. Technical apparatus to enable a soldier to survive extreme conditions and situations, without losing tactical advantage continue to be developed, using a plethora of modern technologies. Robot soldiers that can carry great weights or can be deployed in precarious situations have been developed eg: DARPA's Legged Squad Support System.  The remote drone pilot, in a sense, has an external appendage that responds to his/her movements and instructions. If you'd like to read more about military developments in these areas visit various defence force science and research agencies. You can do the research! There's plenty of information out there. It's both fascinating and scary. 


So, HumanMachineHuman does not depict a morphed transhuman soldier...for me this would be too illustrative and therefore, restricted. Rather, I prefer a play with symbols. I have painted a tree-of-life with cascading branches that morph into three weaponsied drones, as if they are extensions of humanity/life. The drones' scoping systems provide a new type of branching appearance...not quite as complex as that of the tree-of-life though - for now!

Two smaller trees-of-life, positioned at the bottom left of the painting, are slightly beyond the drones' scopes. Is 'capture' immanent? Maybe - maybe not? I'd suggest the white root-like system, that mirrors the red tree, offers some hope of escape. Maybe the small red tree has camouflaged itself to avoid detection? Maybe its colour - red - indicates that it has its own counter-surveillance systems? Maybe it acts as a jamming system, thwarting the drones' collaborative success? The white root-like upside down tree is like a lighthouse shedding light into the dark. Maybe it is seeking a new way, a new universe even? The collaboration between the small red and white trees is significant!

You, the viewer - are you in front of a landscape or are you below the drones looking up, or are you above the drones looking down? Whatever your perspective, it might be a good idea to pay attention! 

This painting is another of my cosmic landscapes, another 'dronescape' or possibly a droned 'skyscape', or a droned 'aerialscape'? It could also be a droned 'dreamscape'? Yes, I do have some fun thinking about these sorts of things.


Saturday, November 12, 2016


New Sky? Gouache on paper 57 x 76.5 cm 2016

New Sky? continues my exploration of the relationship between technology and how we might perceive and understand the sky, consciously and subconsciously, in the 21st century. In an earlier post I contemplated how the sky is now a contested place where surveillance and targeting by weaponised drones limits the freedoms and lives of those who live below them. This limitation is about literal life and death. It is about fearing the sky and what it might deliver.

In this painting,New Sky?, the viewer is unsure whether they are above or below the three weaponised drones. This ambiguity in perspective is a deliberate ploy, one that I have 'played' with for many years in many different paintings...regular readers know.... 

The trees-of-life, some upright and some upside down, enhance the ambiguous perspective. Are we looking up into a cosmic sky, the Universe opened up? Or, are we looking down upon a landscape where life, in many cases, is turned 'upside down'...destroyed?

 What does it mean if the transcultural/religious tree-of-life symbol is turned upside down? This question is bigger than me! I know I painted upside down trees-of-life, AND I felt compelled to do so, in this painting and others, but I leave it to you to find your own answers. 

I have painted the drones in shades of blue to suggest their contribution to the 'new sky'. But, the geometric patterning deliberately hints at the artificiality of their sky impressions or camouflage. The geometric patterning becomes synonymous with pixels and virtual reality, algorithms and digital image making. In this way I have channeled the ubiquity of connectivity...the connectivity that contemporary surveillance relies upon. Our devices, personal, work related and incidental, are data suppliers, nodes of information, points of digital reference, markers of behaviour...all of these and more, provide fodder for data collection and analysis ie: metadata. This is used by advertisers, governments, the military and...

But, is it real? Again, you can seek your own answers. 

The Hellfire and guided missile weapons on the Reaper drones in New Sky? are red, the same colour as the trees-of-life. The colour red is fervent, vital, energised. 

The fact that I have painted both the trees-of-life and the weapons red can be interpreted as a bad thing, but it could also be read as a good thing. It depends on which entity you think has the most power - LIFE or the weapons?


Friday, November 04, 2016


Hello Posthumanity? Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm 2016

Hello Posthumanity? relates to some works on paper I did last year and earlier this year [see below]. In these paintings I used binary code, the tree-of-life and words, painted in cosmic environments, to grapple with the meaning of 'posthuman'. I have, however, bypassed the idea that it means a kind of re-calibration of human identity as a result of technology. Rather, I plummet straight into it being a state or place that exists after the annihilation of the human species...possibly due to emerging technologies. Here, the 'post' in posthuman literally means after-human-species-existence. Yes, somewhat different to a re-calibration. 

So, what would this posthuman world look like? Would there ever be a chance of human revival, resurrection? Does God have a say? If we exist in a multiverse, would humans survive in other universes, if they exist there at all? Or, is the multiverse a parallel system, so that when something is extinct in one universe, it is also extinct in another universe? Even if humans were annihilated by misuse of technology, deliberate mal-use, accident or by machine design, would the ultimate demise of the Sun and the resultant destruction of the solar system, return us to the stars? Would this be a posthuman existence that is still 'human'? Would a posthuman world be one where humanity's digital residue remained long after mortal extinction? Would a posthuman world be one where artificial intelligence AI that surpassed human intelligence in ways that were so far in advance that any connection to human intelligence was lost?

Regular readers will know that much of my most recent work is involved with landscape, weaponised airborne drones, cosmic perspectives and the figure of the tree-of-life representing LIFE threatened by accelerating developments in militarised technology. Yes, there is an undercurrent that connects these works with my interest in the posthuman.

Hello Posthumanity? combines the tree-of-life, with binary code 'instructing' various words that I have also painted. The portal from which ribbons of colour emanate could indicate journeys into and from another universe? Maybe the trees-of-life are bits of 'human' star dust scattered across space? Maybe the binary code indicates digital residue? And, what about God? Well...your guess is as good as mine!

I cannot help myself...but...this painting positions hope as a strong force. Hope is there - in the trees-of-life, in the the portal where the distances of time and space are retained, in the ribbons of colour indicating the number of question marks, both '?' and '00111111'.


 Picturing the Posthuman gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2015 

 I Am Am I? Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2015 

 Imagining the Posthuman Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016

Vascular System for Posthumans Gouache on paper 42 x 30 cm 2016