Sunday, January 08, 2017


 Sky - Drone - Net gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Surveillance is a hot topic. Cyber-hacking, data collection, Big Data, device monitoring, video surveillance, tracking by GPS systems, drone surveillance and lordy knows what other kinds! We have stories of the recent US election being influenced by another foreign country's surveillance, hacking, stealth! And, closer to home, after browsing the internet for holiday accommodation, I have social media sites advertising special deals in the very same places. There are some hot deals in Port MacQuarie!  Oh, and we now have a tracking device that we can attach to our cat, the one who thinks he is a person and sometimes a bird. This device can be monitored by a mobile phone. Even pets are subject to surveillance! Actually, this is going to make life a lot easier - I hope...

In this post I have two surveillance paintings. As regular readers know I am fascinated by the figure of the unmanned airborne military drone. Its surveillance, monitoring and attack capabilities are both sophisticated and alarming.There are many moral and ethical questions associated with remotely piloted unmanned drones, especially as autonomy in many of their operative systems increases. Political questions collide with moral and ethical ones. Various interests and debates seem to fall into a quagmire, but research and development into increasing autonomy, stealth capability, non-reliance on GPS or communications satellites etc continues. Politics, and definitely the law, play a game of constant catch-up!

In the meantime the public is subject to persistent surveillance. In some parts of the world ie: Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, this surveillance takes on life and death perspectives.

I imagine an array of signals forming a net across the sky. Here, I take cultural critic Mark Andrejevic's idea of "the droning of experience" and call our contemporary skies "droned skies". In my imagination the sky is diminished, its endlessness restricted as fear mingles with the signals to create a tight and opaque 'net' the obscures perspective, distance, imagination.

Now that does not seem such a happy note to end this post on!

Please focus on my two paintings Sky - Drone - Net and Swarm Surveillance. In both it is unclear whether you are above or below the net of signals. There's hope! 

Swarm Surveillance Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

No comments: