Friday, December 28, 2018


It's Everything Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm 

Historian, Yuval Noah Harari has written an article, "Moving Beyond Nationalism: Three global problems create a need for loyalty to humankind and to planet Earth"published by The Economist. The three global problems Harari identifies are "nuclear war, climate change and technological disruption." That these three issues require global attention and co-operation is clear. Each pose major risks, even existential risks, to humanity and the planet. Combined, they pose a hellish picture of the future. 

As Harari notes, a retreat into nationalism does not protect nations from risks posed by nuclear war, climate change and technological disruption. He writes "We need to create a global identity and encourage people to be loyal to humankind and to planet Earth in addition to their particular nation."

I like the idea of being "loyal to humankind and to planet Earth." Regular readers of this blog will know that this kind of sentiment underlies much of my work. My use of the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life, depictions of Earth as a pale blue dot, and my use of cosmic perspectives, coupled with visual signs and metaphors of contemporary risks, are attempts to focus attention on humanity and the Earth. Visual questions about militarised technology and the militarise-ability of technology, pose questions about the future of humanity and the planet.

The medium of painting moves thinking away from what artist and writer James Bridle in his fascinating book [do buy it!] The New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future calls "computational thinking" eg: data driven computation, computer simulation/modelling. The act of painting and the medium of painting can help remind us of alternative ways of thinking. Ways that may assist us in creating a loyalty to humankind and Earth. Ways that can critique contemporary technology - without using it for creation, exhibition and storage.*     

So, for the arrival of 2019 just a few days away, I have decided to upload a selection of my paintings where, variously, the tree-of-life, the pale blue dot, cosmic perspectives and images of airborne weaponised drones may induce thoughts about loyalty to humankind and Earth. 

 Future Oil on linen 91 x 102 2015

 Australian Landscape Cutout Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm 2015
This painting is a reflection upon how nationalism might work, or not work, in the 21st century. It reminds us that all nations share the one planet.

 Beacon Oil on linen 92 x 102 2014

The Birth of Landscape oil on linen 138 x 168 cm 2014
A small tree-of-life is cradled by the emergent landscape, at Earth's beginning. Ultimately life, including humankind and the planet are entangled.  

 Pale Blue Dot Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2014

Reading/viewing the painting above with the two below triggers a few questions about what kinds of risky anomalies are we not noticing. I propose human imagination can take us to revelatory perspectives.

 Anomaly Detection [No 2] Oil on linen 120 x 180 cm 2017

Anomaly Detection Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

Happy New Year,

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Droned 21st Century Vision oil on linen 40 x 50 cm 2018

The term 'drone vision' is different to 'droned vision'. 'Drone vision' ascribes vision capabilities to a drone, a machine. This is something I have previously critiqued.* The latter, 'droned vision', is about how human vision is changed as a result of ubiquitous images viewed on screens, for example, camera screens, mobile phones and computers. The flattening of an image, the pixellation of an image, the cross-haired focussing to generate and view an image, all contribute to 'droned vision'. The simulation of perspective is a trickery that implodes both literal and metaphoric perspective. The latter should be the ability to cast critical eyes and intellect to penetrate the digital data that makes up 21st century imagery. I fear this has been eroded. 

In Droned 21st Century Vision the red overlay presents a flattened perspective, the orienting lines mimicking surveillance and targeting co-ordinates. The grid of squares, that seemingly continue beyond the painting, establish zones of reference, a kind of pixellation of space that enables extraction of data. Here I expose the way new and invisible topographies are imposed on the landscape. These new topographies include invisible signals that ricochet around the world and into space, from node to node. Signals enable increasing surveillance as they wrap the planet in nets that we cannot see, but hold us hostage.

Are the cross-hairs those of a camera viewing screen or do they represent a weapon? The dual-use nature of contemporary technology, however, blurs the separation between civilian/domestic and militarised use and intention. The hostage situation becomes clearer! The very recent deliberate disruption of Gatwick airport by civilian drones demonstrates that no contemporary technology can claim to be neutral. 

In Droned 21st Century Vision I have placed two trees-of-life, one pale night-vision green and the other red, within the flattened plane of gridded squares. Another tree-of-life, a white one, is positioned on a hillside in the background landscape. This tree reveals the insidious trickery of droned perspective. It represents a resistance to the norming of droned vision. It stands as a beacon, both as a warning and a guiding light. It retrieves real landscape and the depth it provides - perspective - from the 21st century simulation.

* One example post is The Drone: Do Not Embody

On a more happy note. I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and a happy 2019.


Friday, December 14, 2018


 Cosmic Testimony Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

As I mentioned in my last post, I am on crutches with a full leg brace. It is difficult to stand and sit at a desk for a long period of time, let alone sit in a car. I am 1.8 m tall with long legs and when one of these legs cannot bend and the other has a slight injury, even simple things are difficult. I hope to get back to my studio practice asap though!

In this post I present three paintings from 2017. Each of the paintings includes leaves. In my mind they are leaves that have fallen from the tree-of-life. Each of these paintings also include figures. As regular readers know I do not often include figures as I am careful not to appropriate other people's stories. However, the tree-of-life is often my figure substitute, a symbolic representation of human life and all life, at the same time.

The Leaves are Leaving Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

Each of the three paintings also include radiating lines that appear like the rays of the sun. But, are they? Well, they could be, if that's what you want to believe. However, for me, they are the surveillance and targeting signals of an airborne drone.That the signals take on a fake sunshine appearance is deliberate.

I ask, what are we not noticing? What risks are we oblivious to? Are we noticing the effects of ubiquitous surveillance? Are we noticing what is happening to the leaves of the tree-of-life?

Leaves can fall off a tree because the tree is deciduous. The fallen leaves provide mulch on the ground. A cycle of life continues as the tree, in springtime, sprouts new leaves. But, leaves can fall off a tree due to lack of water, heat stress or poisoning. The leaves fall as the tree dies.

The leaves in my paintings are metaphors.........................................


Can the Leaves Still Dance? Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

Monday, December 03, 2018


Scopic Gaze - 21st Century Oil on linen 36 x 36 cm 2018

I have fractured my left patella and injured other parts of my body too. Long story involving a cat, a ledge and a flight of stairs. It is difficult to sit at a desk with one leg up. Thus this post will not be too long. 

Scopic Gaze - 21st Century connects to my last two posts and paintings Fake Eyes: In The Sky and Seeing Through the Fake Window. It also connects with a number of other posts and paintings where I reflect on ideas of 'drone vision', 'machine vision' and other anthropomorphic terms applied to contemporary machines and systems, particularly militarised and militarise-able ones. 

The scopic perspective is offered by cameras and guns. Cross-hairs and other focusing mechanisms scope space to identify targets to capture, to shoot. Both words, capture and shoot, apply to cameras and weapons! When cameras and weapons are combined, for example in an airborne drone, the capturing and shooting are amplified.

In the 21st century we are increasingly accustomed to images, more often than not, viewed on a screen of some sort. The edges of the screen render the peripheral unseen, in a way mimicking the scopic gaze of the camera and weapon. Digital images on screens comprise multitudes of pixels, tricking us into believing what we see. Yet, each pixel is bordered by its edges. Without companion pixels the image disintegrates. Each pixel is like a micro - scope capturing data that is only meaningful when positioned with other scopic - pixels. Do we really see or are we detecting?

Does the 21st century scopic gaze, which we are incessantly exposed to, change the way we see, what we believe, how we imagine and dream? Does it condition us to view the screen as a window - albeit a fake one? 

Scopic Gaze - 21st Century depicts a blood red tree-of-life as a target. Is it a camera targeting to take a shot, or a weapon targeting to take a shot? What if it is both camera and weapon? 

There are a lot of questions I ask myself as I write my post and paint my paintings. But, underlying everything I love that painting can visually pose and penetrate questions - without employing the the digital and cyber systems used by scopic mechanisms. 

Oh, and the tree-of-life is always a symbol of hope!