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

1 comment:

Elsie B at Google said...

A luscious painting!