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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Lovely happy dog Katherine!!! Glad to hear all going well. Need to have a catch up ... haven't heard from Jill Brown for a while. She is often our stimulus? But might see you at APT on Friday??

all best