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?


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