Monday, August 28, 2017

SENSORED

Sensored oil on linen 50 x 50 cm 2017


We humans are increasingly 'sensored' beings. By this, I mean, we are equipped with, attached to or carrying devices that are operated by digital and cyber systems that interconnect across skies, land, seas and space. They interconnect using even more devices such as satellites, land-based receivers, servers and more. 

The devices we interact with, whether a phone, a car, a computer, an implant or other - 'sensorise' us. They make us a part of, or even a node in, cyber and digital networking systems. And - in a funny way, they also censor/ise us, but maybe we have not fully comprehended this yet? 

Transhuman - Translandscape
As our bodies carry devices in ways that transform us into transhuman-like creatures, they also transform the way our landscape or environment operates or is viewed. For example, skies 'colonised' by unmanned weaponised airborne drones change the way the sky is perceived. This is particularly so in places such as Yeman, Somalia and Afghanistan where the skies are seen by many as harbouring a potential lethality. In these cases the landscape becomes vulnerable, offering little refuge when vertical surveillance penetrates even the privacy of everyday life. A landscape crisscrossed with humans carrying and using devices, and buildings equipped with even more, develops another layer - not geographic - but, an unseen layer of signals. These signals variously traverse the globe, bounce from earth to satellites and back again. A 'translandscape' possibly? Another recent painting and post Space Net refers to this kind of activity. 

Sensored
In Sensored red 'signals' emanate from behind a cloud. What lurks behind this cloud? A drone maybe? The red signals continue beyond the painting. They indicate a wide net, a net of surveillance. In doing so, they reveal how the sky is now 'sensored' in a way that is not dissimilar to the 'sensorising' of human beings. It's an insidious process - don't you think? 

Like many of my paintings - dronescapes, landscapes. cosmic landscapes - the viewer could be above the clouds looking down upon a landscape, maybe a seascape. In this case a drone is possibly lurking below the clouds. However, the viewer could also be on the ground looking up into the sky where a drone could potentially be lurking above the clouds. With these two possible perspectives the painting somehow provides a powerful stimulus for imaginative flying around a drone - in ways that turn the surveillance back onto it.    

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WESTERN QUEENSLAND 

Now for something a bit different. The photo below is me in the very back of a landcruiser. We've just driven around checking cattle. 

I spent a fabulous weekend out in Western Queensland - Roma, Mitchell and Mungallala. 

An old school friend has a cattle property beyond Mungallala. We had a camp fire, damper, homemade sausages. And, we helped check on cattle, their water [it is very dry]. We saw a brown snake - early for the season. We saw hundreds of kangaroos, both dead an alive. And, emus - so many - all alive! We went to the Mitchell Art Show, the Mitchell Camel and Pig Races, and had a wonderful dip in the Mitchell artesian spa. One of us bought a hat, a country man's hat, from the fabulous Samios Trading Post store in Mitchell. Two people in our group were from Europe and it was so much fun to see country Australia through their eyes. Everything, absolutely everything, was new to them. 

We spent a day in Roma too. Visited Moorelands nursery where you can have a bite to eat amongst an oasis of plants, bush crafts, children playing and more. We also visited the BIG RIG which tells you all about the history of the oil and gas industry out there. This recent history has been somewhat controversial with the increase in coal seam gas exploration. 




Cheers,
Kathryn

Friday, August 18, 2017

TACTICS

Tactics Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm 2017


In this new painting a play of tactics is under way! 

The airborne weaponised drone is targeting the tree-of-life. The tree is isolated in a 'kill box', a virtual three dimensional graphic that delineates a zone around an identified target. Emanating rays above the tree-of-life indicate ongoing surveillance by another drone or maybe a control base of some kind. Whatever it is, the signals represent persistent surveillance by manned and unmanned entities. At the end of each white signal-ray, a small red box indicates potential further targeting.

BUT

The tree-of-life has sent its roots under the 'kill box'. A survival tactic subverting the digital reach! The tree's roots seek out places that a drone cannot penetrate - maybe literal subterranean places, but maybe spiritual realms? The tree succeeds in sending out new green shoots, to bring forth life. BUT, it may not represent human life - and - it may not be on this planet - or - even in the universe! This may sound loopy, but I am thinking of theories about multiverses, and I am also thinking about a future where humanity/life may have left planet Earth. Indeed, we humans are already planning settlements on Mars. But, Mars is still in our solar system. What about humanity/life in other solar systems, even galaxies? An extreme escape!


COSMIC LANDSCAPE - DRONESCAPE
This is another of my cosmic landscapes - or - dronescapes. I like the fact that the viewer can be, at one instant, above the drone, and at another instant, below it or along side of it. By untethering imagination from Earth-bound horizons and taking cosmological perspectives all of us can turn the gaze-scope back onto the drone! Now that's a tactic!

In an age where the sky in many parts of the world is colonised by human-made but unmanned airborne threat, the resulting grip of fear diminishes all of humanity. In an age where the marvels of the universe unfold through scientific research, the containment of our earthly skies and the resulting impost on perspective, are indictments on humankind. 

Taking concepts of landscape into the cosmos helps - for me anyway...

Cheers,
Kathryn 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

GREEN-EYED DRONE


Green-Eyed Drone Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2017


Good news - I have received notification that my Master of Philosophy [University of Queensland] thesis has been passed by two external examiners without requests for changes. I'm told this is quite rare, so I am feeling pretty happy! Celebration time💥 I will graduate in December, in the end-of-year graduation period.

As regular readers know, once I submitted my thesis for examination, I immediately returned to painting with oil paints. While I was studying I had been painting only works on paper. My own work was not part of the thesis, as it was not a practice based degree.


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Green-Eyed Drone is the first big post-thesis-submission oil painting. The underpainted red background had been completed ages ago. It's glimpsed in a few spots. The layering plus the new  glossy paint makes it really hard to photograph, but here it is! 

Regular readers will understand where the idea of a green-eyed drone came from. Part of my M. Phil research included examination of contemporary militarised technology, including airborne drones and night vision technology. This parlayed into studies about the increasingly blurred lines between civilian and military use of cyber and digital infrastructure and systems. So, simply put, whilst the military utilise increasingly autonomous and unmanned systems to optimise engagement in declared and non-declared battlefields, civilian entities also utilise scoping and surveillance technologies to 'target' customers, constituents and so on. 

Eye/Node
In Green-Eyed Drone there is no drone per se. Rather the idea of being droned is indicated by the red eye/node with the night vision green pupil/node. Here, I play with the often used term to describe an airborne drone ie: "eye in the sky" - indeed, there is a film by the same name. I have some issues with anthropomorphising technology by using words like 'eye' and 'vision'. Thus, I have tried, in this painting, to make the eye look unreal, mechanical, even channeling the appearance of computer chip components. This is extended into the 'eye-brow' radiating signals. These could be surveillance or communication signals, made visible by paint. Or, they could also denote a kind of computer chip board circuitry appearance. Similarly, the radiating rays from beneath the eye/node - they could be lashes or maybe tears. In my mind, they are surveillance signals, again made visible with paint. The so called 'eye' clearly becomes a scope, its night vision capabilities enabling it to scope day and night.

The landscape of bright cadmium red highlights may indicate fiery battle has occurred - the drone having scoped targets and then attacked. Or, the red highlights could be signs of a community; dwellings, roads, and other buildings - under surveillance. Or, maybe it's a landscape of crops. For example sorghum, its red seeds glowing on a moon-lit night? 

Green-eyed monster
I am also playing with the idea of a 'green-eyed monster' - a term coined by Shakespeare in Othello [Act 3: Scene 3]. Iago to Othello says:

Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. 

The idea that a green-eyed monster mocks death, feeding upon its victims, is a salient one to ponder as the 'weapons' for contemporary 'battles' become more asymmetrically and pervasively deployed. 

Maybe the tree-of-life, acting as a beacon for life in Green-Eyed Drone, has some answers?  

Cheers,
Kathryn

Thursday, August 03, 2017

RETURN OF THE TURPS




"Return of the Turps" is not about me returning to binge drinking - I've not ever binged my alcohol! Rather, it is about me returning to my oil painting. Yes, the smell of turpentine again wafts through my studio [aka garage] and my house. 

After nearly two years completing my Master of Philosophy research thesis at the University of Queensland, I have not only submitted my thesis for examination - it has been returned by both examiners, with terrific feedback, and no requests for changes or corrections. I am VERY happy. 

While I was researching I did not give up my painting practice. Rather, I only worked on paper, using gouache and watercolour paints. My paintings were not part of my university assessment, but as regular readers will know, I've been quite productive! I have quite a large body of what I call "dronescapes". They reflect upon my academic research into militarised drones! 

However, since submitting my thesis, I have now returned to my oil paints. 

In my last post Research Into Drones: How It Has Influenced My Creative Practice I explained how my university research topic came out of my painting practice - and - how the research has, in turn, influenced my practice. But there is something else. What has surprised me is the how two years of only working on paper has caused slight changes in how I paint with oil paints on stretched canvas. I cannot quite put my finger on it yet, but it feels different, and I think the paintings I am working on, look slightly different. This is welcomed! As a painter I want to develop and respond to influences. Regurgitating the same thing or look is not on my agenda - I bore too easily!



               
New oil paintings in progress. On the left is The Green Eyed Drone. It's not quite ready. The other two paintings are in their very early stages.

STUDIO PHOTOS
The two studio photos above show various works in progress. As you can see from the photo immediately above, the painting on the left, The Green Eyed Drone, continues my interest in thinking about militarised drones, surveillance and more. The tree-of-life is also there. I might discuss this new work in my next post - depending on whether I think it is finished. Time will tell.

The painting on the easel in the photo immediately above, is also in the photo at the top. However, in the top photo I have worked on it and, as you can see, I continue to work on it. I am thinking of calling it Zone. 

I am thoroughly enjoying being in amongst the mess of oil paint - paint on my hands, in my hair even, on my face [a surprise to see in the mirror as I quickly check my appearance before leaving the house]. I am also enjoying wearing very old clothes, wiping my hands across them, dabbing my brush on sleeves - and so on. 

Until next week,
Cheers,
Kathryn