Tuesday, October 15, 2019


 Drone Life Shadow Play Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

I have been thinking about surveillance and sousveillance. And, I have also been thinking about metaveillance. Surveillance is commonly used to describe monitoring, spying and watching, normally in a clandestine or discrete way, often an activity of oversight from above. Sousveillance is a monitoring from below, normally undertaken by someone wearing/holding a device. According to Steve Mann, Professor of Computer Engineering at University of Toronto and 'father of wearable computing', "Surveillance happens when we’re being watched and sousveillance happens when we do the watching", and metaveillance is "seeing sight itself" through exposure of frequencies used for scoping/surveillance. In technical terms all three types of veillance involve digital, cyber or electronic technologies, for example, cameras and sensors, that can be fixed, or moving.

Regular readers will know why I am interested in surveillance, sousveillance and metaveillance. Yes, the airborne militarised drone's surveillance capabilities are increasingly persistent and penetrative. Imaging technology enables surveillance and targeting, but is the image really needed if software is the scrutiniser of data? We can monitor the drone using devices on land and in space, but the monitoring is also reliant on sensors, using the same signal-reliant digital and cyber platforms as the drone. To me, this seems like a loop.

Imaginational metaveillance - maybe it should be imaginational veillance - is a way to monitor without using digital, cyber or electronic platforms, but with these platforms firmly in 'sight'. Hands-on painting practices/processes, and the resultant paintings, do not require digital or cyber technologies for creation, exhibition or storage. They cannot be hacked, appropriated, forensically investigated - they do not bleed data back into the system. For me, painting, as a practice and a creation, offers a distance from the technological system I critique. I invite viewers of my paintings to also fly with me.

By inviting viewers of my paintings to fly, in imagination, below, beside and above airborne drones and/or indications of their presence, surveillance and sousveillance do not seem adequate terms to describe what we might 'see'. And, when we fly above the drones, it's not only into the sky, but into the cosmic reaches of outer space where we can 'monitor' not only the drones, but also their ground-based and space-based support infrastructure against a backdrop of the 'pale blue dot'. Also, by making visible the invisible signals that ricochet from node to node, device to device, we can 'see' how landscape and environment are occupied by a mesh of stealthy techno-colonising forces. When we fly below the drones, the obscuring, or part-obfuscation, of the universal background indicates a loss of perspective. This maybe a sign of a hostage-like situation - and we are the hostages!

If metaveillance is technological way of "seeing sight itself" I think the imaginational metaveillance opens a way to something more, an embrace of vision in the broadest human sense - not only seeing with eyeball and pupil, but also 'seeing' in imagination, in dreams, in nightmares, in visionary and speculative thinking.  Who needs VR tech, when imagination, in full flight, can take you anywhere!

I could write more, but I'll leave the paintings to do the rest of the work!

In this online exhibition I have included various paintings where you are invited to 'fly'.

Imagine yourself below or above, or in front of the droned landscapes or skyscapes, netted with signals and punctuated with hardware.

 Droned Landscape Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Are you above a netted landscape, or below a netted sky or viewing a cross-section of landscape volumetrically occupied? 

 Drone Clouds Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

With imaginational metaveillance swarms of drones become fake clouds, and act of stealth.

 Remote Control Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

The tree-of-life is under attack. The tree-of-life escapes, perhaps? With imaginational metaveillance, life itself is 'seen'.

 What if? Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

We 'witness' more than what can be seen!

 $urveillance Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

With imaginational metaveillance we 'see' the military industrial estate. The sunshine-like rays are painted with small $ signs. Fake sunshine, real surveillance.

 Drone Zones Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2017

New Sky? Gouache o paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

The 'new sky' is formed by pixellated blue drones. What is real?

 Sky - Drone - Net Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Signals, a false star, a net obscuring the sky - or - landscape. It depends where you think you are - above the drone or below it?

 Life and the Drone Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017

The battle of the 21st century?

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

 Anomaly Detection 2 Oil on linen 120 x 180 cm 2017

Pixellated weaponised drones hover over the pale blue dot - Earth.

 Sensored Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm 2017

The sky is occupied by sensors and their enabling signals. A false star extends beyond the edges of the painting....

 New Horizons Oil on linen 97 x 112 2018

Computer-like graphics impose new horizons and false perspective. A drone's wingspan cuts the landscape.

 Mission Capable Landscape Oil on linen 72 x 137 cm 2018

Multi Mission Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2019

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