Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Mission Capable Landscape Oil on linen 72 x 137 cm 2018

In Mission Capable Landscape I continue with my interest in exposing signals that wrap the planet, extend into the sky and space. I 'see' these invisible signals as a new layer of landscape, volumetrically occupying and colonising landscape from land into space. In the 21st century, signals operatively enable militarised technology, such as airborne drone surveillance, targeting and attack. Additionally, the dual-use nature of technological infrastructure, such as communication and GPS satellites, blurs military, policing and security activities. I am interested in not only militarised technology, but also militarise-able civilian technology. The latter includes such things as mobile phones, appropriation of social media data, and cyber technology used in homes and businesses. 

Thus, at the extreme, all signals are militarised or militarisable. If a system is deliberately isolated from general connectivity, this action demonstrates a defensive position that co-opts it into the militarise-ability of security. 

In Mission Capable Landscape I have painted a landscape overlaid with lines. These lines mimic various signalling, scoping and targeting graphics seen on computer screens, such as those of a remote drone pilot. The lines mimic perspective, layering, bridging, fences, furrowed paddocks, roads, landing strips and more. Note the scoping cross-hairs fixed on the green circle [centre left]! At one instant the viewer may feel like a remote pilot, at another instant maybe even a drone, even a satellite. Are you coming into land, are you leveling on a target, are you simply surveilling and collecting data? What are you scoping? Is it all real? 

However, let us take back the human gaze! Let us turn human surveillance back onto the occupying signals. Let's expose them - for all to see!

As I painted Mission Capable Landscape I was thinking about a lot of things, including the notion of hybrid war. What is hybrid war? It is a military strategy that tactically blends conventional methods of war with activities such as perpetrating cyber threats, manipulating of social media, de-stabilising elections, infiltrating government online infrastructure for essential services, promulgating fake news and so on. Contemporary hybrid war needs networked systems and inter-connectivity to enable its tactics. It needs signals! It is a subversive act to expose them!

In a sense Mission Capable Landscape is a hybrid landscape. There is more than one landscape in this painting, including the conventional one and the new landscape of signals. The latter stealthily colonises and occupies the conventional landscape cloaking it with a persistent readiness for offensive and defensive actions. Are we perpetually, and everywhere, in a state of low grade war? A war that can be amplified when triggers are hit. The conventional landscape is rendered permanently 'mission capable' by its virtual non-identical 'mission capable' twin. Conventional landscape, and all its living creatures, are held hostage - it's just that we do not realise it. A creeping occupation of landscape by invisible signals is actually hard to detect - what an insidious strategy! That's why we need to expose them!

But, is there a vulnerability lurking within the new landscape of signals? I argue that its vulnerability may lie within its strength - invisible speedy networked inter-connectivity. As its networking insidiously weaves layer upon layer of enabling signals it presents as an invisible but impenetrable ubiquitous force. But, is it? 

What can we metaphorically or literally unplug to expose its underbelly? I leave you to think about it.

* I have previously written about being taken hostage by signals HOSTAGE

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