Saturday, May 22, 2021


Future Memory Oil on linen 122 x 137 cm 2021

A tree-of-life cascades across a cosmic landscape. The tree's freely flowing branches contrast with the template of four Loyal Wingman drones. Green crosses formulate the landscape with co-ordinates. The landscape must be measured and datafied! Points of reference geolocate the drones within the landscape, and the cutouts 'speak' to agile proliferation. An occupation of landscape.

Four trees bow in the wind on a distant horizon. Are they targets? Are they sentinels sending warnings back to the past? 

On the bottom of the painting, a drone walks a human being. The tether acts as a symbol of human reliance upon technologies that operate beyond human domains of speed, time and space. This 'memory' of the future recalls how human beings need to be 'looked after', especially in landscapes measured for the machines.  

The shade of night-vision green used to paint the human being, its master drone, the orienting crosses and the Loyal Wingman template 'speaks' to surveillance, to imaging technology that can see in the dark - the dark being a metaphor for the humanly un-seeable, the invisible, the forgotten. The dark is data. 


A previous post called Wingman might interest you.


You might be interested in reading about my Theatre of War series.

Australian Defence College, Canberra
If you have not already done so, please read my last post about my experience exhibiting at the Australian Defence College [ADC], Canberra. The paintings are up until the afternoon of June 3, so if you are someone who can access the ADC, please take a look!



Friday, May 14, 2021


Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Four paintings at the Australian Defence College, Canberra

I have just returned from Canberra where I have a small group of my paintings exhibited at the Australian Defence College (ADC) as part of their new ARTS@ADC Program. I am one of three artists, and the only civilian. The other two artists are COL Richard Barrett and MAJ Anne Goyne. This quote from the ADC explains some of the premise for the ARTS@ADC Program:

Self-expression communicates individual and collective experience in a way that others can interpret and find meaning. In the ADF, the means to express ourselves is often limited to verbal and written orders, briefs and demonstrations. Arts@ADC is a new program for ADC staff, students, alumni and members of the community to engage with contemporary Defence issues in a creative way.

I am really buoyed by the open-minded and inquisitive responses to my paintings at ARTS@ADC. As readers know, my work is provocative, speculative, and open for multiple interpretations. Exhibiting my work to a specific military/defence audience is a new experience for me. In conversations and at my artist's talk, I was thrilled that the ADC audience articulated how my paintings prompted thoughts about their own knowledge and experiences. It was clear that raising questions about the relationship between accelerating developments in technology and war was welcomed. And, interestingly, apart from the actual paintings, people were keen to hear how I include painting as a process to work through academic and technical research, to generate new ideas, pose critiques and offer speculations about the future. 

I am aware that ARTS@ADC plans a diverse range of exhibitions, performances and experiences for their staff and students to engage with. The aim to engage with contemporary Defence issues in a creative way situates the program within international and burgeoning realisations that cross-disciplinary research and activities provide new ways to ask or trigger questions, to prompt often difficult conversations, to reflect upon the status quo, to understand the importance of culture and to think about the future. 

I was thrilled to be asked to exhibit by COL Barrett, Director of the Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics at the ADC, founder of ARTS@ADC, and fellow artist. COL Barrett's creative practice is sculpture. He has two of his works exhibited in the ADC courtyard. This is a brief introduction to his two sculptures, as written in information about the ARTS@ADC Program: 

The first piece "Homo ex Machina" is a recycled steel cube mounted on its vertex. Plasma-cut into its panels are the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – depicted in morse code. The work signifies the need to ensure that science, artificial intelligence and computing power serve human needs, and that when we design these systems we need to ensure individual rights are represented. The second sculpture, "Redacted", engages with allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan. The black squares of the internal pattern recall the blacked-out redactions within the Brereton Report, and the repetitive motif within the cube samples the aniconic geometric patterns in Islamic art.

The photo below shows COL Barrett speaking about his work to people who attended the ARTS@ADC launch. This piece is "Redacted". His two pieces Homo ex Machina and Redacted looked like wise sentinels watching over the campus, giving permission to question.

You can find more of Richard Barrett's thought provoking, thoughtful and arresting work at Richard Barrett-Sculptor 

Photo-Courtesy ADC

Anne Goyne, also a member of the Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics at ADC, exhibited charcoal and chalk drawings. Her body of work called, "Through Different Eyes" depicts various images of people, including Anne’s own father and grandfather, involved in war. The over-arching theme is that war is a frequent visitor in our lives and we have a right to defend ourselves and our way of life; however, the sacrifice of those sent to fight must be both just and warranted.  
I can vouch that looking into the eyes of Anne's portraits, trying to work out where they were looking too, triggered thoughts about the past and the present, inner life and duty.

Anne Goyne talking about her work Through Different Eyes
Photo-Courtesy ADC

ARTS@ADC launch: L to R: MAJ Anne Goyne, ADC Psychologist [artist]; MAJ Kate Carter, Course Designer at the Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics, ADC and ARTS@ADC co-ordinator [extraordinaire]; COL Richard Barrettt; Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Photo-Courtesy ADC

Australian Defence College
Richard Barrett Sculpture
Cate Carter  PhD examined civilian-military relationships

Analogue artforms, such as hands-on painting, sculpture and drawing, have a long historical association with war, the military and defence. Indeed there are multiple intersections - recording military battles and their aftermaths, visualising heroism and suffering, used as propaganda and grandiose political displays, created as resistance and more. The art historical development of one-point perspective in painting and drawing during the Renaissance is shared with the historical development of mathematical means to assist military targeting, scoping, surveillance and cartography. Here, I urge you to read Antoine Bousquet's excellent book The Eye of War: Military Perception from the Telescope to the Drone 

My experiences, recent and over many years, tells me that painting in the 21st century has an agency that provides a critical distance from the electronic, digital and cyber technologies militaries, and societies, now rely upon. This distance, provides another kind of perspective, creating a space for critique and reflection on the development and use of these kinds of technologies. I remind the reader, painting does not rely upon electronic, digital or cyber technology for creation, exhibition or storage. It is, therefore, independent from the system that largely operates beyond humanly accessible domains of time and speed. Looking at a painting and creating a painting offer ways to re-enter the dimensions of humanly experienced time, speed and space. Here, imagination has time to roam, to fly. 

In my talk at the ADC I offered  my paintings as invitations to fly, in imagination, into cosmic realms. In doing so, I suggested that scrutiny can be turned back upon the systems and hardware of surveillance and war. I call this an act of imaginational metaveillanceAs cosmologist and astronomer, Martin Rees, points out a “cosmic perspective strengthens the imperative to cherish this ‘pale blue dot’ in the cosmos. It should also motivate a circumspect attitude towards technical innovations that pose even a small threat of catastrophic downside.” Our Final Century (London: Arrow Books, 2004), 188.

When I briefly explained my ideas of imaginational metaveillance to the audience at ADC, I saw a number of smiles and nodding heads. Such great feedback!



Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox: Artist's talk at ART@ADC