Wednesday, September 02, 2020


Theatre of War Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2020


This new work Theatre of War was inspired by thinking about Derek Gregory's idea of 'everywhere war'. If war is everywhere, then the whole world is a 'theatre of war'. Everywhere means just that - geographical landscape, cyber and digital worlds, space and everything in-between. It can also mean time. This is possible if you think of everywhere as being about space/place as well as time/history. 

Readers of General Carl von Clausewitz's famous book On War will be aware that he writes consistently about the 'Theatre of War'. Written during the early nineteenth century and published posthumously by his wife in 1832, it is clear von Clausewitz's 'Theatre of War' differs from twenty-first century ideas of war operation. For von Clausewitz the 'Theatre of War' was a defined geographical situation or place. Depending on offensive or defensive actions, landscape and topography played important roles in strategising, preparation and battle.

In the twenty-first century war has morphed beyond earthly geography and topography into discrete spaces of the cyber world, algorithms and light speed signal transmission. It has also extended into space, where orbiting satellites are now drawn into war's network. The network helps to blur the lines between military, policing and security activities. As civilian activities collapse into militarised zones, war insidiously infiltrates everywhere. The signalic character of contemporary war operation allows for escalation or de-escalation, a war of degrees, not of a duration between declaration and end.  

In Theatre of War I have set up a global stage with a sky/space backdrop. The lines painted over the landscape 'speak' to computer geolocating graphics. The real and virtual become one 'stage'. In the distance an array of different types of civilian and military drones act as both audience and actors. This kind of dual witnessing draws everything onto the everywhere war stage. It is a place where networked systems direct everything and everyone in tragic complicity. With war's duration consumed by the everywhere, a curtain is no longer needed. 

Do not be fooled by what might seem beautiful.   

Update September 2022
I've developed a whole series of paintings themed around the idea of 'Theatre of War'. Here are two examples. If you'd like to see more, just type 'theatre of war' into the search tab top left just below website address bar. 


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