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

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