Monday, November 29, 2021


1. Content Tagging: A Spoof Watercolur on paper 30 x 42 cm 2020

This is another fun post, albeit with a dark side. My last post Face Database: Kathryn's Dataset Map was fun, but also dark.

Dogs, Quadrupeds and Robots is a collection of recent paintings where I depict dogs, one a weaponised robotic quadruped. I refuse to call the quadruped robots, dogs! 

* Since writing this post, I have created another quadruped painting, this time called Lethal Litter

The last photograph is me with our family dog - an Australian kelpie. You will see she is the model for my real dog renditions.

I have 'met' a robot quadruped, but cannot remember what brand it was. [There aren't many manufacturers, but I don't want to make a mistake]. I met this robot quadruped at the Australian Army's Landforces Exposition this year, in Brisbane. The robot was 'wandering' around the expo, its remote controller nearby. It caused quite an excited stir, with people responding to it, as it wagged its tail, went up to them and moved with dog-like movements. 

I was both surprised and not surprised at people's reactions. I was not surprised because this quadruped could certainly mimic some doggy behaviour, and living dogs are lovely! Yet, this robot was clearly a robot, and here I was, witnessing lots of adults responding quite excitedly to a non-living quadruped, almost as if it was a real dog. The experience left me feeling somewhat uneasy. 

When the robot quadruped spied me, it came up and wagged its tail. I refused to respond, but it was hard not to wag back! Its wagging so reminded me of our kelpie's wagging tail movements! Because I just stood there and did not respond, it moved away. The remote operator, who I had located out of the corner of my eye, seemed a bit disappointed. A few seconds later the robot stumbled, tripping on something as it turned a corner. The remote controller turned it off. While robot quadrupeds are supposed to be great on rough and difficult terrain, they're not so good at expos - for now anyway.

This great article "See Spot save lives: fear, humanitarianism, and war in the development of robot quadrupeds" was recently published by Geoff Ford and Jeremy Moses. The article goes into the history of Boston Dynamic’s robot 'Spot', plus tracks public responses to images, videos and news stories about 'Spot'. The article really opens up the dilemma of civilian - military robotic use. Robots [including drones] have many good purposes, but they can be militarised, as the recent case of the weaponised quadruped developed by Ghost Robotics shows. Ford and Moses mention the weaponsied dog in their article too. 

Regular readers will know why I found Fords and Moses' article interesting - because the militarise-ability of civilian technology needs critical attention. It is not a simple matter of dual-use. 

Clearly there's more to say, but I will leave you to think about it...

2. Walking the Dog in the Drone Age  Oil on linen 82 x 102 cm 2020

Walking the Dog in the Drone Age was inspired by an early Covid story of a person in lockdown in Malta using a drone to walk their dog.   

3. Strange Times Gouache on paper

4. Border Crossing Watercolour on paper 24 x 32 cm 2020

This painting was inspired by border restrictions imposed between Australian states during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. 

5. Biped and Quadruped: Warfighters Oil on linen 60 x 110 cm 2021

The robot quadruped is weaponised...

6. Lethal Litter Oil on linen 36 x 112 cm 2021
Dark play on the word litter - rubbish or a litter of puppies!

7. Future Memory Oil on linen 122 x 137 cm 2021

Future Memory does not feature a dog. It does, however, relate to Walking the Dog in the Drone Age, above. In Future Memory a human is being walked by a drone. Maybe we human beings will be the future pets?

8. Me with our family dog - an Australian kelpie.

Friday, November 19, 2021


Face Database: Kathryn's Dataset Map Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2021

This is a bit of fun - playing with the concept of face datasets that assist in training AI for facial recognition and expression analysis. I've mapped correlations between my various faces eg: check out the links I make to the mansplaining face! 

For artists who use face datasets, or any kind of dataset created by others for an array of purposes, it is important to investigate legal and ethical issues relating to use, appropriation, exhibition, publication  and so on. These issues are particularly relevant for artists who use digital and cyber new media platforms, and who may use images or datasets from other sources. There seems to be a cascading array of issues relating to use, appropriation, privacy, copyright etc in a world of digital images, distributed or accessed via the internet. 

That's why I paint! That's why I use paint to parody and critique. I love painting!

Please enjoy Kathryn's Dataset Map. It kind of channels the emoji look, but also Humpty Dumpty and other Egg Heads   

Cheers, Kathryn😁

Sunday, November 14, 2021


Data Data Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Regular readers know that I have been thinking about the increasing interest militaries around the world are paying to the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS], as an enabler of technology, a type of fires, a manoeuvre space and a domain. The fact that EMS is a shared civilian - military resource problematises military desires to dominate, appropriate and ensure access. 

In the techno-world in which we live, we are all reliant on the EMS to enable digital and cyber technologies, to allow networking and interconnectivity, and also interoperability. 

I've been interested in the EMS for some time. 

When I started painting airborne drones in 2015, I also started visualising the normally invisible signals that connect the drones to remote controllers and to GPS satellites. I also visualised sensor detection, targeting and transmission arrays. These paintings were informed by my Master of Philosophy research at the University of Queensland. I completed my M. Phil in 2017. My paintings from 2020 are inspired by my PhD research, Curtin University, Western Australia

This online exhibition of fifteen paintings tracks my interest in the EMS and my ideas of the 'spectrum warfighter'. This fighter could be human, an enhanced human, a robot, an algorithm, an avatar in a simulated wargame. One question I think about a lot is - how doe we memorialise when the warfighter is no longer human? This question has lead me to another question - how do we memorialise when the warfighter was never alive?

Please click on the hyperlinked titles to read the previous posts for each painting.


Not a Game Gouache and watercolour on paper 57 x 76.5 cm 2016

Space Net Gouache on paper 56 x76 cm 2017

New Star-False Star Oil on linen 97 x 112 cm 2018

Charting the Invisible gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2019

01010111 01000001 01010010 WAR Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2021

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

Spectrum Warfighter Gouache and watercolour on paper 30 x 42 cm 2021

Theatre of War-Domain Dominance Gouache on paper 56x76 cm 2021

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

Theatre of War-Infrared Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2021

The Tree Asks, What Can't You See? Gouache on paper 30 42 cm 2021

Theatre of War-Photon Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2021

Spectrum Warfighter 2 Oil on linen 61 x 66 cm 21

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

Saturday, November 06, 2021


Spectrum Warfighter 2 Oil on linen 61 x 66 cm 2021

Spectrum warfighters and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
I've got this thing in my head - a picture of a spectrum warfighter. Is it human, is it an enhanced human or is it a robot? The term 'warfighter' can be applied to a living and non-living entity, even an algorithm. The term 'warfighter' is actually a loaded term!

I have painted a few spectrum warfighters recently* - for me, they are entities that use the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS] as a means of fighting wars, in the broadest sense. This could mean as a fixed or moving enabling node in a networked system of interoperable systems and hardware. It could also mean something more, for example, as a disseminator of information or disinformation. It could mean jamming or interrupting an adversary's signals. The spectrum warfighter, whether human or not, is an integral part of contemporary war, in all its iterative and often concurrent manifestations - grey zone, hybrid, cyber. information and kinetic warfare. 

Spectrum Warfighter 2
In my new painting Spectrum Warfighter 2 I have painted VR [virtual reality] goggles that wrap around the warfighter's head. This reflects upon military interest in augmented and integrated visual aides for things like improved situational awareness. Integrated means that the goggles can be, for example, wifi connected to other sensors carried by the warfighter, and also connected to other close or remote warfighters/hardware. Goggles can also be connected to firearms...

 My spectrum warfighter hovers, as if suspended in the sky or space, or maybe its an image on a computer screen? The warfighter's body is not complete. Maybe its torso is a visual metaphor for a system of warfighting, like a logo? Maybe my warfighter is injured, a real or metaphoric casualty? Maybe the warfighter is simply appearing out of a mist? I'll let you wonder on about the possibilities!

Spectrum Warfighting and the Metaverse
My warfighter also has no face or facial features that can help us work out whether it is human, robotic or an avatar. Facial features are obscured by the augmenting goggles, and what might be a balaclava-like hood. Who knows! Your guess is as good as mine!

If my spectrum warfighter is a 'portrait' of an avatar, maybe it is ready for wars in the Metaverse?  

*More Spectrum Warfighters:

Biped and Quadruped Warfighters
Theatre of War: Spectrum Access
Spectrum Warfighting: Invisibility