Saturday, January 16, 2021

THEATRE OF WAR: SPECTRUM

Theatre of War: Spectrum Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2021

 

Theatre of War: Spectrum is my fifth Theatre of War painting. It seems I am developing a series. 

My earlier Theatre of War paintings are:

Theatre of War

Theatre of War: Terrain Visualisation

Theatre of War: Smart Team 

Theatre of War: Pattern Recognition


Theatre of War

'Theatre of war' is a term used often by General Carl von Clausewitz in his early nineteenth century book On War. He describes theatre of war as a "portion of space over which war prevails as has its boundaries protected, and thus possesses a kind of independence." 

Clearly the contemporary theatre of war is very different to Clausewitz's explanation. Contemporary war now extends beyond geographic boundaries, reaching into - and using - multiple aspects of the digital and cyber world. Of particular interest to me is the increasing interest, by militaries around the world, in the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS] as a domain to be harnessed and controlled. 

EMS
Signals carried by radio and microwave frequencies assist and operatively enable contemporary militarised and civilian technology - and the militarise-ability of the latter. Infrared frequencies facilitate surveillance, and imaging technology. New high energy laser technology can be used for communication, but also a weapon. Hacking, jamming, deliberate pulse attacks and activities such as spreading viruses are enabled by appropriating various wavelengths for nefarious deliveries. Arguably, the use of social media, phising, spreading misinformation are also fundamentally enabled by technologies reliant on signals carried by the EMS. 

Theatre of War: Spectrum
In this new painting I have tried to visualise the EMS as a theatre of war. I have placed this 'theatre' against a cosmic background to indicate a couple of things. Firstly, there are no boundaries - what are the ramifications of this? Secondly, that the EMS is woven into the fabric of the universe and its history. In the few seconds after the big bang, photons - quanta of energy - appeared. These photons are the foundation of the EMS, as all wavelengths are made up of photons that operate as both particles and waves. 

In our human sphere of influence, over time, we have harnessed aspects of the EMS for various things, including activities and technologies that benefit humanity and the planet. But, we have also harnessed it for activities and technologies that, as time goes by, could pose existential threats [regular readers know of my interest in existential risk posed by emerging technologies].   

Back to the painting - I wonder what my spectrum warfighter, in the red box carrying various equipment with obvious antennae, thinks? Is this warfighter human or robotic? Is the warfighter a simulation on a screen? Is the warfighter actually a bipedal node? Is the warfighter a posthuman reminder of human hubris?

Oh, but, there's a computer game called Full Spectrum Warrior It was first launched for X-Box in 2004. 

The contemporary theatre of war is no game, but it includes 'games' of all sorts....

Cheers,

Kathryn

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

COMPETITION CONTINUUM: WAR

 Competition Continuum: War Gouache on paper 56 x76 cm 2021


It's been awhile since I last posted. My last post was the end of October 2020. And, now we are in 2021. Happy New year!

Electromagnetic Spectrum EMS
I have been researching the military use of, and reliance upon, the
electromagnetic spectrum [EMS], particularly military [state and non-state] use of radio, microwave, infrared and visible light frequencies. Of interest to me is that the EMS can be an enabler of militarised and militarise-able technology, as well as being deployed as a weapon - hacking, service denial, signal jamming, high energy lasers. 

All frequencies in the EMS are constituted by photons, each photon holding energy and moving in a wave ie: they are both particle and a wave. Across the EMS photon energy varies and their wave lengths vary, from longer radio waves to shorter gamma waves. All photons move at the speed of light, hence, for example, signals carried by radio waves invisibly travel at the speed of light. 

Cosmology
Within 10 seconds of cosmological history ie: started by the Big Bang, photons played an essential role, producing electromagnetic radiation. Over eons, as temperatures cooled photon behaviour changed, but the foundation of the EMS, a natural resource now harnessed by human beings in our Earthy environment, can be traced to the beginning of the universe. 

EMS Domain
That the EMS, in the 21st century, is a domain of increasing interest to defence departments and militaries around the world, demands attention. Various defence force policy statements increasingly address how to enhance EMS domain dominance, to ensure strategic and tactical advantages in an age of signal-reliant hardware and systems, information warfare, and associated grey zone and hybrid warfare. The EMS is a congested and increasingly contested environment, vulnerable to forces that desire to dominate it.

Competition Continuum: War
In my painting Competition Continuum: War I have evoked the beginning of cosmological history by painting a tree-of-life form that cascades across an ambiguous but vast scape. I have painted strings of binary code 'instructing' the word WAR. These strings can be considered as visualised signals, transmitting or receiving data, information and instructions. These signals criss-cross each other - are they intercepting, hacking, surveilling? The symbol for the speed of light ie: C is also repeated. And, I have included the symbol for photon ie: γ. 

The title of the painting came from a couple of sources. Firstly the US Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations, doctrinal statement, published May 2020. In the preface Daniel O'Donohue, Lt Gen USMC Director, Joint Force Development, states "This publication provides fundamental principles and guidance for planning, executing, and assessing joint electromagnetic spectrum operations across the competition continuum." The second source is the US DOD's Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy, published in October 2020. The following quote is taken from the Strategy's glossary "Competition Continuum – Describes a world of enduring competition conducted through a mixture of cooperation, competition below armed conflict, and armed conflict. This is the environment in which the United States applies the instruments of national power (diplomatic, informational, military, economic) to achieve objectives."

From Cosmology to Militarised technology!
Regular readers will know that I have been very interested in the EMS, signals, militarised and militarise-able technology etc for a long time. Here are a couple of earlier posts. 

Signalscapes and Existential Risk 

Data Data 

Regular readers will also know of my long-term interest in cosmology - the study of the history of the Universe. I am intrigued and excited about how my interests in cosmology, landscape and technology are converging! I even had an exhibition called Cosmology at Purgatory Artspace in Melbourne in 2013. And, I have a designated page called Cosmology

Cheers,

Kathryn