Sunday, November 26, 2017


Cloud Eyes Oil on canvas 40 x 40 cm 2017

In Cloud Eyes I have painted the clouds in night vision green...surveillance green. I ask, how does persistent surveillance and monitoring change our relationship with landscape and environment? Are we even aware of changes? Is landscape altered by the invisible signals that connect, transmit and receive informational, image and behavoural data? I try to expose these invisible signals, layering them over ambiguous landscapes - landscapes that could be anywhere.  

I also try to play with the viewer's perspective - for example with Cloud Eyes, are you above looking down upon my cloud eyes, or are you below them? By playing with perspectives, enabling even simultaneous viewpoints, I attempt to release the grip of machine and cyber surveillance, allowing the human gaze to turn the surveillance back. This is augmented by the sense that the viewer can freely fly around in my paintings. My clouds are visual metaphors for surveillance drones - regular readers will have guessed that!

The red background in Cloud Eyes could be an earthly landscape - maybe a barren desert, a bloodied landscape, or perhaps one rich in minerals. Or, it could be a sky filled with noxious gasses, a close-up of a brilliant sunset, or even the sun itself? In the 21st century the sky and space become part of the 'colonisable' landscape!

Vision, Seeing - Scoping
The eyes in Cloud Eyes are unblinking - they are not human. Here, I challenge ascribing notions of vision or seeing to machine, digital and cyber technologies - drones. They do not see, they do not have vision [literal, imaginational] - instead - they SCOPE! And, when you think about it, 'scoping' befits the contingencies of surveillance ie: monitoring, targeting, manhunting and attack, much better than vision and seeing.... 

By ascribing human qualities of vision and seeing, do we anthropomorphise surveillance technologies in ways that ultimately blind us?

There is more to think about, but I will leave the painting for you to ponder.


Please take a look at my last post A Droned Future? An online Visual Essay where I respond to recent high level UN debates about lethal autonomous weapons. I also address the newly released 7 minute film "Slaughterbots". This film, produced by AI and robotics researchers, portrays a seemingly scifi future - but is it? There is a link to the film in my post. 


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