Saturday, May 12, 2018


Data Heaven Oil on linen 100 x 120 cm 2017

I painted Data Heaven last year. I present it to you as a landscape, cosmicscape, dronescape, datascape, futurescape, codescape!

At the centre of the square, in the centre of the cloud, binary code ‘instructs’ the word DATA. The fifth line of code, ‘instructing’ the letter D, indicates algorithmic continuity. The cloud looks like an eye, with DATA as its ‘pupil’. I am playing with ideas relating to THE CLOUD, big data and humanity’s increasing reliance on digital and cyber technologies. That we can exist virtually across multiple technological platforms/systems while alive is one thing, but that this virtual existence can continue after mortal death, is indicative of  -  DATA Heaven, or perhaps - DATA Hell?

The white cloud-eye is surrounded by fiery ‘lashes’ that lick the cosmos. Is the fire destructive or a symbol of renewal? The binary code is painted white, like the cloud, to reveal subterfuge – DATA is used for scoping, surveillance and targeting purposes. The code is positioned at the centre of red cross-hairs to indicate the replacement of human sight/vision by algorithms, scoping for targets – to sell something to – or to kill. Here, the cloud becomes a visual metaphor for the airborne weaponised drone, its persistent surveillance and increasingly autonomous capabilities.

I am particularly interested in making a critical comment about the use of 'vision' as a word to describe machine imaging technology. In a few of my recent paintings I play with images that look like an eye, but on closer inspection are not really eyes. To ascribe a machine, no matter how advanced, with powers of vision, reduces human capacities of vision - in it broadest sense ie: not only seeing with eye-ball and pupil, but also with a mind's eye/imagination, in dreams, and visionary thinking. A scoping machine, such as a drone, cannot imagine, dream or generate visionary thoughts/thinking. Let's not give away human capacities that may actually be useful for us in the future! Relinquishing them too soon, and normalising things like machine vision - for me - poses an existential risk [can you 'see' this too?].

Data Heaven? poses questions about the future of humanity – its mortal and digital existence.


After winding down from my wonderful trip overseas, I have returned to the studio. The photo shows me preparing the early stages of a painting. And, there's Data Heaven in the back of the studio. Another new painting sits on the desk to the right. 

Please read about my trip, speaking engagements, conferences etc in my last post: Please click on the heading below.


Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox  Studio 


Saturday, May 05, 2018


Presenting my talk at the international Studies Association annual conference in San Francisco. 

I have just returned from my month long trip from Brisbane, to San Francisco, to new York, to Cambridge and London and home via Hong Kong. I did not post while I was away - the first time I have missed even one week, let alone four, in nearly twelve years!

Happy to report that my presentation at the International Studies Association annual conference, San Francisco, was received very well. I was asked to speak about my paintings - my dronescapes - how they resist the insidious [and no so insidious] infiltration of militaristion into everyday life, imagination and the future.  

This conference was a massive one. Every session I went to was stimulating. An array of different topics, approaches, and people from around the world. 

Happy to also report that my presentation at Goldsmiths, University of London, was also well received. Dr. Claire Reddleman and Dr. Elke Schwartz also spoke. I was asked to speak about my work in reference to issues relating to new landscapes/topographies and drone vision. 

A highlight of the trip was attending the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge, annual conference. This was a small conference and I was delighted to be invited to attend. It was two days of fascinating presentations and participatory workshops. The focus was on thinking about strategies to help inform the broader community, policy makers, governments and corporations about existential risk ie: often considered low probability, but high impact events that could cause human species demise or civilisation collapse. Regular readers will know why I was so pleased to attend this conference - I have been interested in existential risk posed by emerging technologies for many years. Ideas associated with existential risk have informed both my creative practice and academic research.

Presenting my talk at the international Studies Association annual conference in San Francisco. 

Presenting at Goldsmiths, University of London

In both my talks I questioned the term vision and its application to a machine. I asked, are we relinquishing human vision before we understand the ramifications of doing so? I couched this in reference to vision as an expansive human capacity ie: not only seeing with eye-ball and pupil, but also with our mind's eye/imagination, in dreams and visionary thinking. I argued that a drone cannot dream nor imagine, rather a drone's imaging technology gives it scoping capabilities, not vision capabilities. Are we exposing ourselves to risk by ascribing human capabilities to drones [and other machines, no matter how advanced they are]? 

My way of countering this reduction of vision is to invite people to 'fly' around the drones, or indications of their presence, in my paintings. The cosmic perspective allows for some considerable soaring! Thus, human vision, in all its capacities, is turned back upon the drones........a radical surveillance. 

The poster advertising the talk at Goldsmiths, University of London

 View out the window at a workshop for the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge. Jesus College courtyard.

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk conference dinner at Jesus College, Cambridge. 


There were many high points during the trip. One was visiting Forensic Architecture's exhibition Counter Investigations at the Institute of Contemporary Art [ICA], London. I used some of Forensic Architecture's ideas in my M. Phil thesis, particularly in my visual analysis of, Australian artist, Jon Cattapan's paintings. Their Lexicon was very useful for a variety of reasons. So, I was very keen to see Forensic Archicture's work at the ICA. I spent hours at the exhibition. A few days after seeing the show, Forensic Architecture was nominated for the Turner Prize. 

Forensic Architecture is a research group at Goldsmiths, University of London. They investigate sites of atrocity, war crimes, human rights violations and more. They gather a plethora of evidentiary material, which they then piece together. This evidence is presented in layered visual formats, often further overlaid with audio material. Comparative analyses of sounds, photographs, shapes in imagery, timelines, satellite imagery, trajectories of bullets, and more, are provided by computer generated tools presented as visual graphics that provide another visual layer. The outcome is a reconstruction of a site or an event - relived, but also explained. Forensic Architecture's work is complex and compelling, visually/aesthetically, and as evidence. This evidence is used in legal and human rights arenas. Additionally the group exhibits their work in art exhibitions. The bridging between seemingly different worlds is extraordinary. For me, their Lexicon  provides clues to this success. It demonstrates creative thought and the depth of their research - and - thus, the precision of their evidence. As art, it is meaningful.

 Me at Forensic Architecture's exhibition Counter Investigations at the ICA, London.

I will write more about the trip in my next post: 

  • The ballet Manon at the Royal Opera House, London.
  • Visiting Bletchley, the secret WW 2 code breaking site half an hour out of London. 
  • Visiting the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, New York.
  • The Imperial War Museum, London, and the special exhibition Art in the Age of Terror
  • Revisiting the National Gallery, London
  • Revisiting the marvelous Frick Museum, New York
  • And More!