Saturday, October 14, 2017


Persistent Situational Awareness Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm 2017

'Persistent situational awareness' is a term used by the military for devices that enable integrated, real-time spatial and temporal awareness of an environment. The environment can be multifaceted ie: from the cyber 'environment', to the physical battlefield and broader locales. The word 'persistent' indicates that the situational awareness persists- unabated. It is clearly associated with capabilities that ensure persistent surveillance. 

One of the important capabilities of militarised unmanned air vehicles [UAV], commonly called drones, is the technology that enables 'persistent situational awareness'. Technology includes sensor and data connectivity with various systems on the aircraft, and inter-connectivity with support infrastructure, including, but not limited to, ground control stations and satellites. The fact that drones are capable of long range, long endurance operations requires capabilities of persistent situational awareness. 

With my new painting Persistent Situational Awareness I have played with ideas of environment and surveillance. 

Maybe the green ball is a planet emitting signals that transmit and collect data that assists in the planet's 'persistent situational awareness', placing it in a position of tactical and attack readiness. In a sense a militarised planet - maybe Earth, maybe not...

Or, maybe my 'landscape' is actually a close-up image of an eye, with the green ball representing a pupil. The blue could be a section of the iris, and the red could be the lip of the lower eye-lid. The clouds could be pterygiums-like, ie; benign growths on the eye, semi-obscuring vision! Now, that's an interesting metaphor. Or the clouds could, in fact, be clouds reflected on the eye as it incessantly gazes, gathering and transmitting data and instructions. Reality, glimpsed in reflection....

If it is an eye, then it is obviously not a normal eye... 

I am also playing with the idea of the airborne drone being colloquially called an 'eye-in-the-sky'. The green-eye/pupil indicating the drone's night vision capabilities - perhaps the red, indicating its thermal imaging capabilities, or any number of other bloody things. The idea of the 'green-eyed monster' plays into my thoughts - a term coined by Shakespeare in Othello [Act 3: Scene 3] it apparently refers to a cat toying with its prey, before devouring it. 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, insidiously and persistently deployed and 'aware'. 

Persistent Situational Awareness intersects with my interest in creating images that can be interpreted as something vast, and at the next instance, as something small. An oscillating dance between the micro and the macro is a theme which runs through my work. 

At the end of the day, Persistent Situational Awareness is a landscape, but I propose it offers a renegotiated idea of what landscape might mean in the 21st century.


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