Friday, July 23, 2021


Australian Landscape - A Metaphor Oil on linen 61 x 66 cm 2021

As I write this the world is in the grip of the COVID19 pandemic. Mutations of the virus pose further threats. In Australia slow vaccine roll outs have placed our population in a vulnerable position. Despite having time, due to quite good pandemic management in 2020, authorities failed to secure enough vaccines, plan for distribution, formulate public education activities, foresee virus mutations as a threat and resolve weaknesses in quarantine arrangements. 

The lack of imagination in our political class [around the world] demonstrates diminished capacities to learn from history [even recent histories], to understand a globalised world, and to adopt a sophisticated mix of science and social science-based responses to the pandemic. A lack of imagination reveals poor capacities of simultaneously accounting for macro and micro concerns.

What if circumstance get out of hand as people become more frustrated and actions are increasingly politicised? Will violence and oppressive responses occur? As people lose faith, for whatever reason, in political leadership, will social unrest escalate?

As an Art Historian I can tell you there is plenty of visual evidence, over centuries, that sickness, plague and pandemic + revolution, anarchy and general social unrest are horrific, and often entwined. Art History shows the horrors of death, sickness, destruction, fear, hatred, hubris, ego, inequality, hunger and hopelessness. I argue that all politicians, policy advisors and really, just everyone, needs to learn some Art History! It might compensate for a lack of imagination....

There's a few grim images of pandemic for you to see in The Black death: Europe's Deadliest Pandemic in Human History

As I write this Australia and Australians are also experiencing anxieties about:

  • Political resistance to climate change mitigation, in some instances a growing disconnect between  electorates and their political representatives. 
  • Allegations of war crimes by some Special Forces operating in Afghanistan. 
  • How our political class is handling our relationship with China. 
  • Financial insecurity during the pandemic and post-pandemic.
  • The US - Australia alliance.
  • War talk.
  • You can add to the list here!

Australian Landscape - A Metaphor 
After reading all of the above I will let you interpret this new painting! 

If you are a regular reader you will note the tree-of-life and the geolocation grid superimposed on the landscape.



Saturday, July 17, 2021


Theatre of War: Photons Do Not Care Oil on linen 92 x 112 cm 2021

This is the tenth in my series Theatre of War. It is, however, my first oil on linen in the series. The others have all been works on paper.

The title of the painting was inspired by words written by Maj John Casey in a very interesting 2020 article "Cognitive Electronic Warfare: A Move Towards EMS Maneuver Warfare" for the online journal OTH: Over the Horizon: Multi-Domain Operations and Strategy. Casey wrote "The EMS knows no limits and the photons do not care about threat envelopes, fire support coordination lines, national interests, or boundaries."

As regular readers know I am currently undertaking a creative practice-lead PhD through Curtin University, Western Australia. My research examines the increasing interest militaries around the world are paying to the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS] as an enabler of technology, a type of fires, a 'maneuver space' and a domain. Given that interconnectivity, networking and interoperability draw EMS-reliant civilian technology into militarised capabilities, I argue - we all need to pay attention. 

All frequencies in the EMS [radio to gamma] are made up of photons, massless particles agitating at different energy levels, but all travelling at the speed of light. Lower energy radio frequencies have longer wave lengths and gamma waves have very short wave lengths. The light spectrum is the only one visible to humans [without tech assistance]. 

Casey's comment that photons "know no limits" reminds us that networked and interconnected technologies utilising the EMS have operative functions that, for example, reach light speed. Photons are quantum particles existing in dimensions of space and time that are beyond human access, but not beyond human desires for optimised tactical advantages. Here, I am reminded of Paul Virilio's comment, 

The fact of having reached the light barrier, the speed of light, is a historic event, one which disorients history and also disorients the relation of human beings to the world. If that point is not stressed, then people are being disinformed, they are being lied to. For it has enormous importance. It poses a threat to geopolitics and geostrategy.*

As Casey reminds us, photons do not care about "national interests, or boundaries". Thus, we need to pay attention to military interest in the EMS as accelerating speeds of technological operation, even light speed operative capacities, are likely, as Virilio warns, to disorient the relation of human beings to the world to the point that geopolitics and geostrategy are threatenedIf we are disoriented - will we even notice? 

Theatre of War: Photons Do Not Care 
Stars in the universe sparkle, light indicating their presence and history. Mars and Earth are visible. I have painted four Loyal Wingman drones with small dots to indicate their reliance on spectrum. Are the dots photons? Are they false stars? Whatever they are, maybe they create a false universe, a strange simulation? The dotted geolocating points in the landscape reference a marshalling of natural resources to conform to strategic needs. I remind readers that the EMS is a natural and universal resource, photons appearing in the nano-seconds after the Big Bang. 

I will leave you to ponder more. 

Cheers, Kathryn

P.S. Last Theatre of War post was Theatre of War: Spectrum Access  For other posts use the Search This Blog is available on the right side of this post. 

*Paul Virilio, “Red Alert in Cyberspace,” Radical Philosophy (Nov/Dec 1995): 2.


Monday, July 05, 2021


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

This is my 9th Theatre of War painting. The last one was Theatre of War: Photon 

Taking Clausewitz's oft used term 'theatre of war' I suggest that the contemporary theatre of war is now staged beyond geographies of land, air and sea. It is now staged in space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum - all domains permeable to each other to allow interoperability and joint force ops. A theatre of war that is endlessly staged - thus it includes time and the future. 

My Theatre of War series addresses some of my ideas about contemporary/future theatre of war.

Theatre of War: Spectrum Access
In Theatre of War: Spectrum Access a figure carries electronic instruments. Is this figure human, an enhanced human or a robot? Maybe it is a simulation for a virtual wargame? The cosmic landscape reminds us that the electromagnetic spectrum is universal - photons appearing in the short seconds after the Big Bang. The tree-of-life, seemingly on fire, conjures thoughts about threats to humanity. And, of course, there is more...

PhD Research
Examining military use of the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS] is the core of my PhD research.  Militaries around the world are increasingly interested in the EMS as an enabler of technology, a type of fires, a 'maneuver' space and a domain. In 2020 US Department of Defense [US DoD] moved from the term 'electronic warfare' to electromagnetic warfare. 

Below are some quotes from a few articles etc that give you an idea about why I am interested in this kind of research.

"Permeating all other domains, the EMS is a foundational domain and enabler of operations in every other domain. With no regard for the sovereignty of any government or military, the EMS provides equitable access to anyone with the means to manipulate it."
Cognitive Electronic Warfare: A Move Towards EMS Maneuver Warfare by John G. Casey in Over the Horizon (OTH) journal, 2021

"The Nation has entered an age of warfighting wherein U.S. dominance in air, land, sea, space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) is challenged by peer and near peer adversaries. These challenges have exposed the cross-cutting reliance of U.S. Forces on the EMS, and are driving a change in how the DoD approaches activities in the EMS to maintain an all-domain advantage." 
Opening sentence of  Forward for the US DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy, October 2020 

In section 3.11 of the Australian Government - Department of Defence 2020 Force Structure Plan, it notes that the Government is investing in "joint electronic warfare battle management and analysis". It also notes that this will be "enhanced" by developing capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum. 
Australian Government, Department of Defence 2020 Force Structure Plan Section 3.11, page 30.

"The military uses the electromagnetic spectrum - essential, yet invisible - to detect, deceive and disrupt the enemy while protecting friendly forces. As enemies become more capable, and threats more complex, controlling the spectrum is increasingly critical." 
Northrup Grumman website page "Electronic Warfare"