Friday, May 26, 2017

CODE EMPIRE

Code Empire Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


In Code Empire I have painted Earth and its moon in binary code that repeats/instructs the word EMPIRE. But the full code is not seen, as it wraps around the planet and the moon. Various satellites are positioned in space, and signals radiate into - or - from outer space. 

Code Empire is a continuation of my interest in trying to portray and reflect upon the influence of contemporary digital and cyber technology in our daily lives generally, and in war and conflict specifically. A recent article "U.S. Empire, Warfare, and Geopolitics in the Robot Age" by Ian Shaw directly spurred me to create Code Empire.(1) In the article, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Security Dialogue, Shaw discusses "more-than-human geopolitics" by drawing nonhuman entities, cyborgs, artificial intelligence and algorithms etc, into the realm of geopolitical influence, particularly regarding warfare. The notion of empire is applied to the way contemporary technology enmeshes the planet in a way the sets preconditions for a future dominated by algorithms, artificial intelligence and robotic forces. Shaw uses terms such as "planetary technics" and "robo-mesh". I particularly like "robo-mesh"! His article raises a plethora of questions about the future of war, security and surveillance, and humanity's place in a world where technology not only changes where and how humans live, but also notions of human agency, power and involvement.    

The World Needs Artists
As regular readers know, I have a keen interest in contemporary weaponised technology, especially airborne drones, increasing autonomy in weapon systems, swarming capabilities and ubiquitous surveillance technology. Code Empire channels all these interests as well as my interest in cosmological perspective. I propose that cosmic perspectives, albeit imagined, are useful ways to critically view current global geopolitical machinations. When I say "imagined", I know some people find it hard to transport themselves beyond the here, now and the obvious - that's why the world needs artists!

Cosmic Perspective
With a cosmic perspective, a few readings of Code Empire are possible. Maybe it exposes the infiltration of militarised surveillance facilitation beyond Earth's atmosphere to dual-use communication and GPS satellites; the digital 'empire' already extended into space? If this is the case it is not just the planet enmeshed in code, but also our atmosphere and beyond. Human endeavours regarding technological development are to be marveled, but ultimately is there a human cost, perhaps not initially apparent? Researchers at the Center for the Study of Existential Risk, the Future of Humanity Institute and others have certainly determined that there are risks with accelerating developments in new technologies, including artificial intelligence. 

What if...?
Whilst Code Empire might depict Earth and the moon, it may not be an image of anything in our solar system at all! It could be another planet in another star system or galaxy - or universe, also enmeshed by code! Or, it could be 'evidence' that Earth, and possibly the universe, may be a simulation run by posthumans. My painted signals may not be radiating out from Earth, but into it from some kind of external/remote motherboard entity. Here, I am thinking of philosopher Nick Bostrom's simulation theory, which I have previously written about.* It is useful to think about the idea of a posthuman simulation, because it implies that the human species no longer exists. If we are not a simulation, thinking about a post - human world might trigger more critical and urgent examinations of the role militarised-capable technology plays as a threat to not only human agency but also human species existence. 

As Shaw notes in another article, "Policing the Future City: Robotics Being-in-the-World" Understanding the worldliness of algorithms is to view them as forces embedded in the flesh, texture, steel, stone, and undulating atmospheres of our more-than-human co-existence.  (2)

Co-existence - for now!

___________________________


(1) Ian Shaw, A pre-corrected draft version of Shaw's article "U.S. Empire, Warfare, and Geopolitics in the Robot Age" is currently available on Shaw's Academia.edu page. It has been accepted for publication in Security Dialogue.
(2) Ian Shaw, "Policing the Future City: Robotics Being-in-the-World", a paper presented at Intervention Symposium – Algorithmic Governance Organised by Jeremy Crampton and Andrea Miller, published in Antipode: A Radical Journal of Georgraphy, 5.


* Some other paintings where I reference Nick Bostrom's simulation theory. 
And, my designated page:

Please also visit my DRONESCAPES page.

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, May 18, 2017

FOREVER WATCHED

Forever Watched Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


In Forever Watched a group of human beings stand together under a cage of yellow rays. Is the source of these rays a spotlight, a protective force-field, surveillance signals from an obscured drone or maybe a computer-graphic rendering of a kill zone? Maybe humanity is being lit by a star on a cosmic stage? Is it God sending divine light? Is it magic? 

This painting is another of my cosmic landscapes where I play with perspective, literal and metaphoric. With cosmic perspectives events such as conflict and war are clearly futile and over consumption of natural resources seems like a death wish. Risk takes on new dimensions when we really think about the fact that, for the time being anyway, Earth is our only home! Looking after it and ourselves seem like sensible things to do.

But, there are forces afoot that create and maintain tension.

The 21st century is an era of pervasive and ubiquitous surveillance. In the 22nd century will the 21st century be considered the beginning the 'forever watched epoch'? 

Surveillance occurs when data is collected from  GPS systems and mobile phone usage. Internet usage and browsing history delivers more data. Crowd monitoring in shopping centers and at events gleans even more data. We are under surveillance at airports, our documents cross-checked, our bodies and belongings xrayed and our movements around the globe recorded. 

There is a plethora of ways for people to be watched, passively or aggressively.

In some areas of the world airborne drones monitor individuals and groups for signs of behaviour that, for those watching, may indicate malign intent. This kind of surveillance acts as a type of quasi-military policing, placing fear into those who are constantly watched and monitored. That a drone could quickly turn from surveillance mode to killing mode couples surveillance with lethal weaponry in one device. The drone then becomes a multi faceted dexterous device - private detective, witness, analyst, prosecutor, judge and executioner combined!

Being watched, however, can be considered a way to ensure citizenry safety - a protective practice. Yet, there is something rather creepy about being under constant scrutiny. And, have things become bad enough to require constant scrutiny/protection?  Arguably, being forever watched could be considered an insidious way to insert mechanisms of control across domains. Welcome to the "everywhere war"(Derek Gregory, 2011).


Cosmic Testimony Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, May 11, 2017

COSMIC TESTIMONY

Cosmic Testimony Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


WITNESSING
Giving testimony is that act of providing evidence of an event, an occurrence, a behaviour or even a phenomenon. Maybe it is an eyewitness testimony? Or, it could be a "flesh witness" testimony from someone who has an immersive experienced in something, rather than observational one? Yuval Noah Harari's article "Scholars, Eyewitnesses, and Flesh-Witnesses of War: A Tense Relationship," is a terrific introduction to the nuanced differences between an eyewitness and a "flesh witness".

In Cosmic Testimony a number of questions about witnessing are triggered. Is the image a projected future scenario that provides a chance to witness the future in order to preempt disaster? Here, I take my cue from Forensic Architecture's postulation that "forensic futures" are possible. Although, I do not use new media, digital data or documentary techniques to create my images, the idea of touching the future is really tantalising. Here's a quote from the Forensic Architecture website, "forensic futures sets out to document the enabling conditions of violence, and offers an archive that may be called upon to testify in the future." Here, a key idea is "enabling conditions of violence". The Forensic Architecture website mentions patterns of behaviour that are likely to be repeated in the future as an indication of "enabling conditions".

REPEATING PATTERNS
In Cosmic Testimony there are hints of a number of repeating patterns - extreme climate events - increasing presence of surveillance - the presence of ever increasing developments in militarised technology ie: drone capabilities. But, there are no real answers - it's a painting after all! Rather than answers, there are questions. Was the fire caused by the small but lethally armed red drone - its Hellfire missiles erupting in massive destruction? Depending on your answer you might read the human figures, enclosed by a cage of yellow rays, as either captured or protected? Are they captured in surveillance signals of an airborne drone? Maybe they are targeted and a kill zone is delineated around them? Or, maybe the yellow rays are protective, some kind of divine force keeping humanity safe? The fire may be an Australian firestorm. Indeed, firestorms and floods seem to occur with increasing frequency around the world, presenting evidence that extreme climate change is potentially a major existential risk to humanity. Yet, the fire is inspired by my childhood memories of my father burning off crop stubble.* 

COSMIC PERSPECTIVE
With a cosmic perspective patterns become obvious. This is at the same time it becomes clear that humanity has nowhere else to go if Earth is compromised to the extent it cannot support life. Distance provides the space for a kind of witnessing where "patterns of behaviour" by "familiar cast of characters" help to foretell a future where violence, ignorance and unsustainable practices could be the norm. 

TREE-OF-LIFE
However, in Cosmic Testimony I  have included my version of the transcultural/religious tree-of-life as another kind of evidence - of sustainable life! The presence of the tree and its roots, coupled with the fire symbolically speak of renewal, potency and rebirth. The spinney of leaves speak of time passing and act as a pathway for humanity. Ultimately, the painting presents a few possible futures for humanity - good and bad - each largely depending on choices we make here and now in the twenty-first century. This is one of the messages Martin Rees conveyed in his fascinating book Our Final Century: Will the Human Race Survive the Twenty-First Century? 



Stirring the Dark Chasm Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Other fiery paintings:

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, May 04, 2017

HOT

Hot Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


CROP STUBBLE
Regular readers will have noticed a few fires in my recent paintings. The inspiration is drawn from childhood memories of my father burning crop stubble. Magnificent fires, over hectares of ground, lit as the sky darkened...the most still part of the day. These fires took over the horizon in ways that brought the Milky Way closer. Embers and stars seem to meet - fleetingly. The flat treeless plain, where my parents' farm was situated, provided fire with a 'canvas' of vast proportions.   

In my recent paintings I've transported my childhood memories into cosmic landscapes where orientation is somewhat ambiguous. I really like the sense of flying! In Hot I imagine I could be an ember or a star! You could be too.

SERIOUSLY, HOT
But, seriously Hot does engage with issues relating to global warming and environmental sustainability. Here, in Australia fires and firestorms seem to have become fiercer and more regular, particularly during our long hot summers. 'Heated' debates about how land is prepared or not prepared for fire possibilities occur, before and after fire events. Farmers, green lobbyists, environmentalists, government departments argue about the best ways to prevent fire occurring and spreading. But, we approach each summer with trepidation.

What if the fire in Hot is Earth's last remnant, consumed by cataclysmic devastation? Or, it could be a painting of the future, when the Sun meets its demise and the solar system is destroyed. Maybe Hot is the Sun's last gasp, Earth already non-existent? Maybe it's not Earth or our Sun? Maybe, it's a fire at another cosmic address?

Other fiery paintings:

Cheers,
Kathryn


Thursday, April 27, 2017

FIRE AND FLOOD: EXTREMUS

Fire and Flood: Extremus Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


PLANETARY HOME
I have painted another image that speaks to our planetary home's current environmental dilemmas - extreme weather events, environmental degradation, pollution and more. What is not consumed by fire and heat will be subsumed by flooding waters - maybe? 

The type of landscape is unclear - it appears to be both sky and land, cosmic even. Is the fire a sign of earthly remnants burning off their last signs of existence? Is the flood the spilling of cosmic tears? Are we looking through tears down onto a landscape or up through them to an endless sky? Maybe the fire and the flood are ghostly essences, reminders that a planet once existed? 

But, maybe the fire and flood are signs of new life, a cauldron of possibility? Maybe fire, water and unseen forces are stirring universal alchemic processes that bring forth new possibilities? These new possibilities - material or spiritual...

INSPIRATION
Apart from thinking about our planet and its future, and therefore humanity's future, this painting was inspired by recent devastating floods here in Queensland, Australia, in the aftermath of super-Cyclone Debbie. I have personally experienced rising waters in four floods, one in Dalby where I grew up, two in Goondiwindi where I lived for eighteen years and one in Brisbane during the 2011 floods. Fortunately none caused major losses. However, I do know what it is like to be an island, completely cut off, snakes seeking the same high ground you are on, the dankness of mud as the waters recede...

The painting is also inspired by memories of the massive fires my father and other farmers lit to burn off crop stubble. This practice was stopped at some stage and farmers then started to plough stubble back into the soil. However, I still have vivid childhood memories of fires that covered whole paddocks. Flames leaped into the air, into darkening skies. These flames seemed to lick at the stars, teasing them. Dusk and at night were the safest times for the farmers to set fire to stubble...the air is still then. 

The dark night skies of my childhood are the entry points for my cosmic travelling - imagined in my paintings. 


RECENT NEWS
The Center for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, New York conducted an interview with me about my dronescapes. The interviewer is Maggie Barnett.  Portfolio: Dronescapes by Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox

Cheers,
Kathryn

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

STIRRING THE DARK CHASM

Stirring the Dark Chasm Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 017


Fiery environments have featured in a few of my recent paintings. Here in Stirring the Dark Chasm a swarm of weaponised drones seem to be engulfed by flames of their own making. But, are they flames erupting from bomb sites where destruction has ensued? Or, have the flames been released from some kind of abyss? Maybe both! 

But look closely, trees-of-life are also emerging from the flames, or is it an abyss? The trees are escaping the heat as they trail their branches across the cosmic sky. Safe passage for life and humanity, perhaps.

There is always hope!


COSMIC LANDSCAPE - DRONESCAPE
This is another of my cosmic landscapes. It is also a dronescape. The cosmic perspective enables the viewer to distance themselves in ways that may trigger new ways of looking at things. The viewer could be looking up at a sky, witnessing a battle taking place above a landscape. Maybe it's a battle of machine against machine at some stage in the future? Or, the viewer could be looking down onto the drones and their fiery bedevilment. In this case, the viewer maybe looking upon a landscape, where an abyss has opened with intent to consume unmanned forces. Skyscape/landscape!

As in many of my dronescapes and cosmic landscapes the viewer can, using imagination, fly around in my paintings. When I was a child I flew! Please check out my painting and post When I Was A Child I Dreamt I Could Fly

And, what are the metaphoric possibilities? Are accelerating developments in drone technology taking humanity on a high speed path to oblivion? Or, are increasingly autonomous systems offering us freedom, security, fulfillment? Or, are we replacing existing problems with a set of new ones ultimately even more difficult to resolve?  The abyss... is of course...metaphoric. But, the trees-of-life do offer hope.

Cheers,
Kathryn


Friday, April 14, 2017

A NEW SUN, A NEW DAY

A New Sun, A New Day Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017



Geopolitics
Geopolitical agitations are currently heightened. We have the USA bombing Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on Syrian citizens. The identity of the perpetrator of this horrendous act is contested. One country points a finger at Syrian leadership and another points a finger at covert actions by others, ghosts that seep into imaginations, adding to a fear which cannot find a ground on which to orient itself. Additionally, we have Russia and the USA metaphorically 'fisting' each other, trying to show who has the biggest muscles. Syria seems to be the mega-giants' proxy battlefield where they have inserted themselves into a civil war that seems diabolically intractable. The Russian - USA 'situation' is compounded by ongoing allegations of shifty cyber world maneuverings designed to spy and gain advantage of the other. Then, we have the USA stirring the secretive North Korea, China sitting somewhere in the middle - and the USA dropping a massive bomb onto an alleged ISIS enclave in Afghanistan. And...all of this is in addition to a long list of intrigues, attacks, would-be attacks, aftermath of attacks and political posturings occurring all over the globe. 

The Media
The media positions itself as an informational source, a valuable contributor to societal awareness of politics and its posturings. BUT, the media is also now a contested entity. Fake news has eroded the the media's spine, left it desperately tying to stand up straight. Harm has been done. What are we to believe? Public confidence is low. A lack of ground on which to orient our fears is possibly both a result of and cause of the media's inability to stand as an informational beacon. Many of the ghosts that stir fear, shifting it from place to place, exist in the virtual world where unseen algorithms spread 'news' along digital pathways at near light speed. This 'news' pops up in social media sites, online news sources and so on, to be sent back along digital pathways in quick response to 'likes', 'shares', comments and emoji reactions. 

How can we humans keep up? The ground is seemingly swept from under our feet, replaced by a constantly shifting virtual one. And, without a ground on which to firmly stand, orientation of any kind is difficult - maybe that is the real crime, the real attack, the real covert success?

A New Sun, A New Day
This 'skyscape' painting suggests waking up to a new day where peace reigns and sustainability of all kinds flourishes. Just imagine a day, and another day and another, without war, conflict, threat, surveillance, hunger, environmental erosion and all the the other plights of life in the 21st century! Imagine the ground restored so we can contemplate a new day, watch its slow birth as the sun rises and sets.

Imagine

Let us be sure that the new day, with its new sun, is not a virtual reality, one delivered by screens designed to keep our attention away from strife in the real world.

Imagine

Maybe a new sun and a new day are signs of peace on Earth - but - maybe not. 

The new sun could indicate a new planetary home?

______________________________________


P.S. My last post was also about the sun - or a sun SUN - 01010011 01010101 01001110



NEWS

NEWS
International
* Dr. Christopher J Fuller's book  See it?Shoot It: The Secret History of the CIA's Lethal Drone Program has very recently been published by Yale University Press. Dr. Fuller is an historian at the University of Southampton, UK. In the lead up to the book's launch he was asked to write a post for the Yale University Press blog, "Yale Books Unbound". He asked to have one of my paintings head his post which is titled "The CIA's Drone Policy Under Trump". Dr. Fuller's post was published online at "Yale Books Unbound" (April 10, 2017).

* Very excited to tell you that my dronescapes feature in a book review of Ian Shaw's Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance. The review was written by Kate Kindervater, from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. Ian Shaw is an academic at Glasgow University who writes about drones, populations, surveillance etc from a human geography point of view. Needless to say I am thrilled that my work has been contextualised within important social and political discussions about drone technology. The review can be read HERE.

Australian
My painting The Tree-of-Life Sends its Energy Underground is on the front cover of the forthcoming Australian Women's Book Review. If you click HERE you will be taken to the AWBR site where you can see the painting and also link to an article by me. 

Cheers,  Kathryn

Friday, April 07, 2017

SUN - 01010011 01010101 01001110

SUN? Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


SIGNALS
I imagine our world increasingly 'marked' with invisible signals. These signals emanate to and from various electronic devices, digital and cyber devices, drones, and satellites. Airborne drones mark a kind of mid-point node, deployed to augment surveillance, targeting and and possible killing. In many of my recent dronescapes I attempt to make the insidiousness of signals visible. I paint signals emanating from drones, either visible or obscured. I paint signals and drones in cosmic skies to take the viewer's mind to places and perspectives beyond Earth's crust and atmosphere, beyond the low earth orbit of GPS satellites and beyond the geostationary orbit of communications satellites.

The cosmic appearance of my dronescapes enables viewers to 'fly' around drones, and their surveillance and scoping signals - to keep an eye on them! It is a defiant act!     

SUN?
In SUN? I have painted emanating rays that appear to be a sun's rays. But, take a closer look - the rays are painted with strings of binary code 'instructing' the word SUN - 01010011 01010101 01001110

Ah ha, the rays are not a sun's rays but the surveillance signals of an obscured drone - maybe? The ray-like appearance could be an attempt at decoy, camouflage, stealth, covert intent, propaganda. The binary code exposes the subterfuge.

By making code visible, even aesthetic, I try to expose the increasing influence algorithms have on life in the 21st century. I have a contrary enjoyment painting code by hand - it's never going to be perfect, although it might look good!

Why is the tree-of-life upside down? Well, there could be many reasons. It may have obscured itself from the surveillance by mimicking the ray's orientation. It may have sent its roots underground for protection. It may not even be on planet Earth! Maybe it's a sign that humanity has 'escaped' a roboticised Earth - or - maybe its an indication of alien life somewhere else?



NEWS
Very excited to tell you that my dronescapes feature in a book review of Ian Shaw's Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance. The review was written by Kate Kindervater, from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. Ian Shaw is an academic at Glasgow University who writes about drones, populations, surveillance etc from a human geography point of view. Needless to say I am thrilled that my work has been contextualised within important social and political discussions about drone technology. The review can be read HERE.

Cheers,
Kathryn

Friday, March 31, 2017

ANTHROPOCENE

Anthropocene Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


In Queensland, Australia, where I live, we have just experienced Cyclone Debbie. Luckily I live south of where the eye of the storm hit, but this cyclone was so massive that it has affected the entire Queensland coastline. Take a look at images taken from the International Space Station HERE

So, with Cyclone Debbie in mind, my new painting Anthopocene 'speaks' to what seems to be an escalation in natural disasters not only in frequency, but in size and ferocity over the last few decades. The term Anthropocene has entered our lexicon to describe a new geologic era, one where human activities have influenced atmospheric, geologic, biospheric and hydrolic systems on Earth. You can read more about the Anthropocene on various websites including Anthropocene   and Smithsonian . com

ANTHROPOCENE
I started Anthropocene well before Cyclone Debbie threatened. Why? Because, things like drought, mass forced migration of people, floods, coral bleaching and firestorms intersect with increasing surveillance, political tensions, social schisms, terrorism and war. These in turn intersect with increasing developments in technology, emerging new technologies, exploration of space and neo-liberal hijacking of seemingly everything in order to monetise it. All sounds rather dire really!

In Anthropocene I take a cosmic view of human activity! There's fire, coral bleaching, flooding rains, drought, mass forced migration/exodus - and - cross-hair targets, a weaponised Reaper drone and space based assets [GPS and communications satellites] representing their dual-use civilian/military status. Then, there are some fervent red trees - trees-of-life, their branches turned inwards as if creating an airway where their filaments-leaves can filter invasive forces - a promising breathing space. Even the radiating surveillance rays of an obscured reconnaissance force cannot infiltrate the breathing space. 

Perhaps life has other plans for us? 


NEWS

My painting The Tree of Life Sends its Energy Underground is the front cover of the next Australian Women's Book Review Please click on their website where you can see the image, plus read my artist's statement. And, you can order the review! 

In February an interview Portfolio: Dronescapes by Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox I did with Maggie Barnett from the Centre for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, New York was published on the Centre's fabulously informative website

Cheers,
Kathryn
www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SOMEWHERE

Somewhere Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Somewhere may be on Earth, but then again it may not. 

It could, however, be evidence of life on another planet, an exo-planet enticing human beings with promises for life after Earth - or - post-Earth as I like to call it. 

It could be a simulated landscape experienced via virtual reality. The lively colours a distraction from the erosion of our earthly home? Imagine sitting inside your driverless car, windows blackened so you can enjoy your virtual landscape of choice! Looking out the window, what a novelty!

Or, maybe it's a remnant of Earth flung into the universe upon the fiery demise of the sun and the solar system?

SCIENTISTS' EXCITEMENT
Over the last few days I have attended some fascinating events at the second World Science Festival held in Brisbane. I've heard some very excited scientists talking about the future of autonomous vehicles of all kinds, new ways of urban living, robotic companions for the very young and very old, 'fail-safe' artificially intelligent systems and more. The scientists' excitement is infectious. Their expertise and imaginations are to be admired - indeed many scientists seem more imaginative than artists! Somewhere could be a future landscape where the downward emanating rays are signals from benign interconnected systems designed to assist society in a variety of ways [protected from hijacking/hacking by malevolent forces, of course]. The trees may indicate a preserved/restored natural environment, the small crosses could be autonomous vehicle parking and recharging hubs, The upwardly trailing string of variously sized dots could be a holiday route to the Moon! Whether its our Moon or not, is unknown.

CONTESTED FORCES
And, here's another possibility, one where contested forces battle. Regular readers will guess that the trees are my representations of the tree-of-life. As they branch upwards, the downward emanating rays could be the scoping signals of obscured airborne surveillance drones, possibly armed? There are so many though! The small crosses may be target points or the cross-hair markings of unmanned sniper drones? Leaves and small dots cascade across the landscape. What do they 'know'? Are they seeding new life for a safer future - ready to regrow and send up new shoots when the time is right? Is the upwardly trailing constellation of coloured dots and circles a sign of escape or seepage - like blood loss? 

I 'see' Somewhere not as one landscape, but many. Each one presenting lots of questions. I also think there's something about it being quite beautiful. 


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You might be interested in previous posts:

and


Cheers,
Kathryn

P.S. I also attended a robot programming workshop at the Queensland University of technology [QUT] that was part of the World Science Festival. My team of three programmed our robot to 'draw' a tree. I have a bit of an issue with describing what the robot did as 'draw', but I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. I am working through some thoughts and will probably write about them at some stage.






Saturday, March 18, 2017

STAR BLOOD

Star Blood Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017



The Cosmos is crying.

Tears of star blood.


_______________________________________________________________

Are you below or above the tears?



For clues 

and 



Cheers,
Kathryn

Friday, March 10, 2017

ANOMALY DETECTION

Anomaly Detection Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


The term anomaly detection is a technical one. It is an automatic system for detecting unusual behaviour, patterns or occurrences in, for example, live or stored data, such as film footage. Anomaly detection can allow preemptive actions. Regarding military drones the identification of anomalous behaviour, for example multiple vehicles moving at speed from different directions towards one destination, can trigger an alert for increased surveillance and readiness for potential attack. A drone's wide area surveillance capabilities mean expansive areas can be surveilled, and sophisticated detection and recognition algorithms are employed as another layer of surveillance monitoring. In civilian arenas anomaly detection systems are useful for a variety of monitoring requirements that range from security to environmental protections and more.

In Anomaly Detection I have turned drone surveillance on its head. Here, I have painted the drones as if pixelated, as if a detection and recognition algorithm has detected the anomalous behaviour of three armed drones converging on the tree-of-life hovering at the center of the image. The viewer of the painting could be monitoring the drones from the ground, looking up - or - from the sky/space looking down. In this way the viewer becomes aware of the power of perspective, even in imagination. 

COSMIC PERSPECTIVE
Cosmic perspectives implore us to seek distance, both close and far, as a way to examine ourselves and the planet. From vast distances it becomes obvious that planet Earth, despite discoveries of possible habitable exo-planets, is our only home for the foreseeable [and beyond] future. We need to look after the planet and ourselves. By exploring perspective and engaging with multiple perspectives maybe we'll discover more anomalies that highlight risk in ways that trigger precautionary, preemptive, restorative and pro-actionary activities?

I am really pleased with this painting - I actually think it is quite beautiful - in a way that achingly screams for the tree-of-life's survival in the face of potential destruction.



* Please check out the recent interview Portfolio: Dronescapes by Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox with Maggie Barnett from The Centre for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, New York.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

BODIES OF WORK


   
Screen shot from the Center for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, new York  interview with me about my dronescapes. You can read the entire interview HERE  


I am very excited about the interview the Center for the Study of the Drone conducted with me. The Centre is “an interdisciplinary research institution that examines the novel and complex opportunities and challenges presented by unmanned systems technologies in both the military and civilian sphere”. 



BODY OF WORK


 
 
 

Top: Through the Mists of Time                Alternative Ways of Being 
Middle: Between Existences          Persistent Surveillance and Strike
Bottom: Swarm Surveillance                          Across Time and Space


Not all my recent paintings feature the figure of the drone. However, some feature a drone's surveillance features, such as signals. Others feature the tree-of-life in cosmic landscapes. Whilst individual paintings can stand alone, a body of work gives space for paintings to play off each other. By playing off each other certain aspects of imagery take on 'loaded' meanings that may not be otherwise evident.

It is often interesting to look at much earlier work to place it with recent work. I don't know about you, but with the figure of the drone and its capabilities in mind the paintings below take on an urgent reminder of our need to look after ourselves and the planet.



 Elemental 2009

Halo 2009



Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, February 23, 2017

DIORAMA - THE FUTURE

Diorama - The Future? Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017



Please check out the interview The Centre for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, New York conducted with me about my dronescapes Portfolio: Dronescapes by Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox .
I am also thrilled that a research centre such as the Centre for the Study of the Drone believes my work has something meaningful to contribute to current debates and conversations about drone technology.

I also want to report that my reading at Wild Readings earlier this week went very well. I read short paragraphs about three of my recent paintings, New Sky, Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell and Through the Mists of Time. I then read a slam drone poem I have written. 

(Below) Here's a photo of me reading. The painting you can see is Through the Mists of Time.







DIORAMA - THE FUTURE
Diorama - The Future? is not unlike two earlier and smaller works on paper Fragmented and The Tree-of-Life Sends its Energy Underground

The patches of red in Diorama - The Future? can indicate a few things - blood lost, life's fertility, energy lost, or maybe energy dispersed for later retrieval. These red patches act as landscape elements too, albeit possibly cosmic landscape ones. They could be mineral deposits, contour indicators, pools of energy, multiple glimpses of sunsets, bomb blasts on distant and close horizons....

The oscillation between positive and negative interpretations is deliberate. It reflects the ambiguity of orientation in the painting. Is the viewer above the landscape or are they looking down upon a landscape, or are they in front of one or maybe behind? This sense of flying around the landscape, and importantly the Reaper drone, forecloses any priority that might be given to the drone's so called 'vision'. 

The viewer's orientation is disturbed by the upright and upside-down trees-of-life, the two white ones and the row of yellow ones. The white trees act as illuminating beacons. But, the drone is also white? Ah ha! Its failed attempt to camouflage itself is revealed! The emanating rays that appear on the top left look like the rays of a sun - but - they could be the scoping signals of a drone. They contrast with the upside down white tree with its emanating branches that reveal a more complex array of networks and systems than those signaled by the emanating drone rays. Again, perhaps an attempt to camouflage a drone's intrusive surveillance and possible targeting capabilities is revealed. 

EYE IN THE SKY
By playing with orientation and ambiguous perspective the viewer becomes the 'eye in the sky' even if its in your mind's eye - imagination. Given the title of the painting Diorama - The Future? maybe the viewer is transported to the future - in imagination? Given that developments in militarised technology, such as increasingly autonomous systems, are already focused on perceived future of war needs, thinking critically about how the future might unfold is important. In some ways it is already militarised and in some minds so is imagination!

Rather than the word 'vision' to describe a drone's surveillance and targeting capabilities, I prefer the word 'scoping'. This removes the questionable habit we humans have of anthropomorphising non-human and non-living things. Scoping is a more technical term- related to targeting and surveillance. Vision, however, implies a lot more that we humans need to retain for ourselves, particularly imagination - our mind's eye!

Cheers,
Kathryn
www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox.com 
 P.S please take a look at my new DRONESCAPES page.





Friday, February 17, 2017

SECRETS

Secrets Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Upright and upside down trees-of-life - roots - multiple mini landscapes - emanating pink rays - glistening stars or are they galaxies?  - skies - clouds - landforms - the cosmos - and ---- secrets!

If you are new to my blog you are likely to 'read' this painting quite differently to those who visit often - initially anyway. 

NO DRONES - MAYBE?
For those who do visit often they will notice the absence of airborne weaponised drones. They will, however, think twice about the emanating rays in the distance. Are they signs of hidden drones loitering beyond sight, their long range and long dwell capabilities enabling persistent surveillance? Or, are they evidence of suns in the far distant reaches of the universe? Regular visitors might also notice how these rays contrast with the pale green roots, and the upright and upside-down trees. 

New and regular visitors will notice an ambiguous perspective - are you above, below, inside, outside, in front of a landscape? Is it a 'scape' of the land or of the sky? Maybe, it's a 'scape' revealing multi-universes? 

WHY SECRETS?
I called the painting Secrets for a few reasons. One is to remind us that keeping secrets in the cyber and digital age of the 21st century is very difficult! Whether secrets are revealed now or at some time in the future is largely out of our hands. Algorithms will trawl through data and come up with correlations that 'reveal' biases, likes, dislikes, habits etc whether we like it or not! 

But, a painting with upside down trees, an ambiguous perspective, emanating pink rays, pale dots, green roots and an overwhelming sense of beauty keeps its secrets by being enchanting, even beguiling. Whatever secrets it might hold, they are there forever - so I am told!  

A BODY OF WORK
Once an artist has a body of work it is exciting to see relationships between works, even over decades. A body of work is a dynamic entity made up of equally dynamic parts. Yes, individual pieces can be appreciated separately, but connections between works can sometimes reveal - secrets!

Cheers,
Kathryn
P.S. Please check out my new DRONESCAPES page here on my BLOG and my updated 'galleries' on my website

Saturday, February 11, 2017

CRADLE

Cradle Gouache and Watercolour on Paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


HOT
As I sit here in my office in sweltering heat I ponder the state of the planet. Here in Brisbane we have experienced days of drastic heat - one after the other. All over Australia people are sweltering under record high temperatures. The odd hot day or two is bearable, but day after day of heat + humidity is debilitating. The relentlessness of the heat is significant, because to me at least, it demonstrates change in weather patterns. I grew up in Western Queensland, Australia. Then as an adult I spent 18 year further west, before moving to Brisbane 16 years ago. Yes, it got hot out west, but I don't remember weeks of relentless heat - like we are experiencing now. I noticed it last year too, but had not previously noticed it 

So, are we humans like a frogs put in water that is slowly brought to boiling point - but the frogs do not notice they are being cooked?! Maybe?

POLLUTION
In the 60s and 70s when I was at primary school we learnt about pollution; air, water, soil, land etc. Yet, here we are a few decades later still talking about the effects of pollution - humanmade pollution! Even if humankind's pollution is ultimately not a major contributor to climate change/global warming it cannot be helping! Even if it is a minor contributor, what if it is the thing that causes the balance to tip - the last ingredient - AND - so something that demands to be addressed - by all of us? Arguing about addressing human generated pollution seems pointless because one way or another it is a major problem.

Added to environmental turmoil the world is also experiencing other kinds of turmoil - economic, political, social and cultural. My guess is that they are all connected.

CRADLE
So, I painted Cradle with humanity and the tree-of-life linked in a vast landscape as a way to envision Earth - our planet - our home. After all, it is ACTUALLY our 'cradle' as it nurtures us in every way. Let's look after it and each other....



Below is another 'cradle' work from 2015 In the Cradle 

 
In the Cradle Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2015



NEWS

Red Rain on the front of Hecate and What I think About When I am Planking featured on conference material. February 2017

My painting Red Rain  is featured on the front cover of HECATE Hecate is a journal that prints material relating to women. It is is an internationally circulated refereed journal. It is published twice a year by Hecate Press, in association with the Research Group for Women, Gender, Culture and Social Change Research, in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland.

My painting What I Think About When Planking  is featuring in printed and online material for the international conference Excess Desire and Twentieth to Twenty-First Century Women's Writing  


Cheers,
Kathryn
P.S Please check out my new DRONESCAPES page 

Sunday, February 05, 2017

MANHUNTING IN THE DRONE AGE

 Manhunting Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


NEWS

1. I have made a designated DRONESCAPES  page here on my blog. There are 18 of my dronescape - cosmic landscape paintings.

2. My painting Red Rain  is featured on the front cover of HECATE Hecate is a journal that prints material relating to women. It is is an internationally circulated refereed journal. It is published twice a year by Hecate Press, in association with the Research Group for Women, Gender, Culture and Social Change Research, in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland.

3. My painting What I Think About When Planking  is featuring in printed and online material for the international conference Excess Desire and Twentieth to Twenty-First Century Women's Writing  


____________________________________________________


MANHUNT

I first came across the term "manhunt" in regards to airborne drone surveillance and targeting in French philosopher Gregoire Chamayou's book Drone Theory. He makes the startling and horrific claim that in the age of the drone the whole world is potentially a manhunting ground.(Chamayou: 38, 52-53) And, let's not forget that in some parts of the world 'manhunts' conducted from the air already occur. In many cases targeting is based on patterns of behaviour or data collected from devices such as mobile phones, GPS and so on. In these cases a target may not even have a name - this is called a 'signature strike' rather than a 'personality strike'. (this information is available in numerous places including newspaper article as well as books like Chamayou's Drone Theory)

I have come across the idea of manhunt/manhunting in other articles and books a number of times since reading Drone Theory. The threat from above informs architect Eyal Weizman's theory of the verticality of threat and international relations academic Alex Danchev's provocatively titled article Bug Splat: The Art of the Drone . Media studies academic Mark Andrejevic writes about the ubiquity of targeting surveillance in a number of articles and essays. And, there are others.

In the last few weeks I have read two articles by lecturer in human geography at Glasgow University, Ian Shaw. These articles are The Great War of Enclosure: Securing the Skies and The Urbanisation of Drone Warfare: Policing Surplus Populations in the Dronepolis . Both of these pieces are wake-up calls about the threats posed by accelerating technical, operative and usage developments in drone technology. Increasing autonomy and swarm capabilities trigger many questions about drone use in both military and civilian situations. The insidious thing is that the divide between civilian and military is becoming increasingly blurred.


Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2016


Manhunting and Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell 

I painted Manhunting after reading Shaw's two articles and I painted Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell before reading the articles. Shaw's ideas about the reduction of some populations to a "surplus" category where data often acts as a proxy for the human really resonated with me.

Binary Code
Both paintings depict life and humanity in painted binary code. How? In Manhunting I have painted Human in binary code at the bottom of the painting, over and over. This represents a population under surveillance, potentially targeted.

In Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell I have painted the word LIFE in binary code at the bottom of the painting. And, the word DRONE is painted in binary code on the Gray Eagle drone.

In both paintings 'signals' emanate from the drone, a Reaper drone in Manhunting.  They are simultaneously surveillance and targeting signals, on the one hand 'sucking' in our data and on the other hand perhaps lasers pinpointing targets? Both the Gray Eagle drone and Reaper drone are armed with missiles. They are ready to attack. The targets below the drones are strings of binary code acting as proxies for humanity and life. There are no names, just code...data contained in the reductive 'space' between zeros and ones.

BUT 

I have deliberately painted the binary code in attractive colours to make the strings of code look like ribbons, to inject personality, to stir the pot so-to-speak. Hand painting the code also means the zeros and ones are not perfect. Can code really represent life and humanity in all the foibles and amazing attributes that come with flesh, blood, emotions, spirit, creativity...?

In Combat Proven, Long Range, Long Dwell I have also included trees-of-life to act as beacons to guide us. In Manhunting there is no tree. But, I look at the empty space on the far right of the strings of binary code in two ways. One is that human life completely ceases and autonomous artificial life systems rule the world! The other is that life covertly goes underground, ready and waiting for regrowth some time in the future.


A Selection of related posts.
REGROWTH and DRONE STAR
FRAGMENTED and UNDERGROUND: DRONESCAPES
SCOPED

and

my 'gallery' DRONESCAPES


Cheers,
Kathryn