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


Detail SUN?


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