Monday, July 23, 2018


 Code Empire Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

I have not been painting for the last few weeks as I have been writing essays, proposals and articles. And, I still have one more proposal to write. However, as I think and write, ideas emerge or become clearer.

One of these is the idea that we are held hostage by invisible nets of signals that enable technological inter-connectivity. For example, signals sent via radio waves and microwaves enable connectivity between ground-based nodes, air-based and space-based assets. As I have previously written, I see these signals as a new kind of occupation of landscape, a new kind of colonisation that extends from land into space.* Coupled with undersea and subterranean cabling, a matrix of signalling infrastructure extending from below the Earth's surface into space is either obscured or invisible.

Increasing dual-use capabilities of contemporary technology mean signals are militarised or are potentially militarisable, by state and non-state actors. That signals also enable a constant ever-readiness for offensive and defensive actions places the world in a constant state of preparedness for war. One could argue that this is actually an insidious siege by stealth - a hostage situation.


We are the hostages.

* Selected list of previous posts.
Occupied Landscape: Everywhere
Persistent Readiness
Exposing the Invisible

I will be thinking more about the idea of hostage.

The paintings in this post have been completed since 2016. But, I see now, that my ideas about new invisible netted landscapes and the foreclosure of perspective, disclose an environment ready for taking and holding hostages.

Forever Watched Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

The title Forever Watched clearly indicates a hostage-like scenario. I have painted lines that emanate from an obscured source. These lines encircle a group of people. While the spotlit appearance mimics beams of light, maybe from the sun, or maybe from a stage spotlight, the cage-like encirclement of the people indicates something more sinister. Is an obscured airborne drone surveilling or targeting the people?  

 The New Clouds Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

In The New Clouds I have painted swarms of drones, 'camouflaged' as clouds. One drone has been 'taken out', but swarm technology allows for groups to re-calibrate and continue their missions. Swarming technology is less reliant on signal connectivity with communication and GPS satellites, thus making jamming and hacking more difficult. However, inter-connectivity is still a characteristic, including within the swarm. Thus, the concept of netting is transferable from one place to another. 

In The New Clouds, the viewer could be below the drones looking up, or above the drones looking down. Either way a hostage situation is apparent - the viewer could be a  hostage, or an observer of a hostage situation. 

Or, as the painting provides oscillating perspectives, the viewer could be both hostage and observer. What will you do?

 Ubiquitous Surveillance: An Invisible Landscape Oil on linen 60 x 110 cm 2017

In Ubiquitous Surveillance: An Invisible Landscape the viewer can again be under the clouds or above them, or in both places as once. The red and green signals clearly net the landscape. Has the sky fallen, like a cage, foreclosing perspective, literal and metaphoric?

This same question could be asked about Wide Area Surveillance [Below]. New layers of landscape, formed by signals emanating from a drone, cast a net that extends beyond the edges of the painting into the wider environment. By making visible, the invisible signals that enable digital and cyber connectivity, I attempt to reveal a creeping foreclosure of perspective - a 21st century hostage situation. 

Wide Area Surveillance Gouache on paper 14 x 24 cm 2016


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