Tuesday, December 14, 2021


 Theatre of War: Plague Cloud Oil on linen 112 x 92 cm 2021

Theatre of War: Plague Cloud is number 13 or 14 in a growing Theatre of War series of paintings [oil paintings and works on paper]. It is also one of a number of cloud paintings ie: 'playing' with real clouds and The Cloud - the 21st century pervasive techno-network.

The Cloud
As noted in a recent post for another painting Theatre of War: The Cloud I have been researching the idea of the cloud as a metaphor. Here, John Ruskin's observations, made in two speeches at the London Institute in 1884, of 'plague clouds' and 'plague winds' have helped me think critically about The Cloud. I ask, is militarisation of technology, including the militarise-ability of civilian technology, like a 'plague wind' blowing through the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS]? Given that the EMS operatively enables contemporary technological connectivity, interconnectivity and networking, could The Cloud, therefore, be a 'plague cloud'? 

In Theatre of War: Plague Cloud I have repeated some of the motifs I used in Theatre of War: Everywhere Cloud where circles contain elements of military hardware or systems used underwater, on the water, on land, in the sky and in space. These systems 'peek' out of their 'cloudy' domains, but all of them are drawn into a larger 'cloud' of repeated circles that represent interconnectivity, networked systems, interoperability and joint force operations. This large 'cloud' extends beyond the painting. Like an airborne contagion it threatens to wrap its techno-tentacles around the globe, potentially drawing each military and civilian device into its 'cloudy' web. 

Theatre of War: Plague Cloud's background, painted with a combination of blue and rust red, appears 'dirtier' than some of my other 'cloudy' paintings. This helps to channel the idea of a plague that infects the environment. Here, I note Ruskin's observations of dirtier looking skies and clouds painted by artists, such at J. M. W Turner, who responded to a changing environment during the early 19th century industrial revolution. It also demonstrates a vulnerability, because once the world is techno-wrapped, can we unwrap ourselves or be unwrapped? What happens if The Cloud fails and it spontaneously unwraps - unravels - as connections falter, its 'promise' of persistence, resilience, connectivity and speed, broken? 

I wonder what it might be like to be uncontrollably jettisoned from the web! 

On that happy note!

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