Wednesday, May 18, 2022

HYPERSONIC

HYPERSONIC Oil on linen 56 x 112 cm 2022




Speed has become a central concern of mine - light speed, hypersonic speed, terms like 'accelerated warfare' +++. I have a chapter on speed in my developing PhD exegesis. I am informed by cultural critic, Paul Virilio's various commentaries on speed - speed of technological development and speed of technological operation. I am also informed by his intersection of speed and war.

HYPERSONIC
This new painting HYPERSONIC references Australia's commitment, through the AUKUS [Australia, United Kingdom, United States] partnership, to develop hypersonic weapons and counter-hypersonic capabilities. The painting maps trajectories taken by hypersonic weapons. Ballistic missiles that can fly at hypersonic speeds have set flight paths, and are less manoeuvrable. Hypersonic glide and hypersonic cruise missiles are more manoeuvrable, thus they can evade detection. Evading detection means a target is more difficult to identify. Hypersonic weapons fly at speeds beyond Mach 5 [Mach 1 being the speed of sound]. Google hypersonic weapons, and you'll find lots of information.

An AUKUS update, April 5, 2022, from the White House clearly identifies hypersonic weapons and counter-hypersonic technology as key activities under the heading Advanced Capabilities. "Hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities. The AUKUS partners will work together to accelerate development of advanced hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities."

Note the word accelerate in the quoted sentence above. Everything is about speed!

Like many of my paintings that visualise signals, flight paths, the techno-cloud and more,  HYPERSONIC is an attempt to visualise discrete or invisible aspects of contemporary war. HYPERSONIC is a 'landscape' of trajectories - hypersonic ballistic missile trajectories and hypersonic glide/guided weapons trajectories. Hypersonic weapons cannot be easily tracked with the naked eye. Sound becomes a residue. Manoeuvrable hypersonic weapons cannot be easily tracked, full stop. Hence the AUKUS partnership is not only about hypersonic weapons R & D, but also "counter-hypersonic capabilities". 

LANDSCAPE
The painting suggests that invisible forces etch landscape, creating new kinds of insidious scapes that mediate landscape, as well as concepts of environment. This mediation affects how we think of human movement, borders, sovereignty, security, life and death. A patch of red dots, left of centre, references geolocating and terrain visualisation graphics. This reminds us that landscape is mediated for technologies with increasingly autonomous functioning, particularly movement.  What are the implications for the future of war and humanity? 

For any living creature, human or non-human, at or near a target, speed is life changing or ending. 

Speed is key. Speed can be weapon and a purveyor of weaponry. 

"There is a certain inevitability in the domain of science and technology. We never decelerate." Paul Virilio , Desert Screen, p. 33. 

Cheers,
Kathryn

Saturday, April 23, 2022

SPEED OF LIGHT

Speed of Light Oil on linen 112 x 153 cm 2022
 

Interconnecting circles form a fake cloud across a vast scape. Are you above this fake cloud or below it? The circles are formed by repeating the symbol for light speed - c. 

This painting responds to my PhD research into increasing military interest in the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS]. All frequencies from radio to gamma waves travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. All frequencies are made up of photons. Contemporary military and civilian technologies are increasingly reliant on radio to light frequencies for operation, connectivity, interconnectivity and inter-operability. Speed is key to seemingly instantaneous operation, connectivity, interconnectivity and inter-operability. 

Just a reminder that speed can kill.

As human beings harness the power and speed of the EMS for civilian and military applications, nations attempt to ensure access and use of frequencies. Even the recently announced Australia, United Kingdom and United States alliance AUKUS has, as one of its "advanced capabilities", a focus on, 

"Electronic warfare.  The electromagnetic spectrum is increasingly contested.  The three countries will work together to share understanding of tools, techniques, and technology to enable our forces to operate in contested and degraded environments." (White House "Briefing Room" Statement April 5, 2022) 

Selection of other paintings and posts that relate to Speed of Light

Theatre of War: Dromo Domain

Theatre of War: Internet of Battlefield Things

Theatre of War: Everywhere Cloud

Theatre of War: Photons Do Not Care

Theatre of War: Photon

Cheers,

Kathryn

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

INTERFACE: Being HUMAN Being

Interface: Being HUMAN Being Oil on linen 56 x 112 cm 2022
 

Interface: Being HUMAN Being follows my last two works on paper Interface: Being  and Interface. I have been thinking about the human-machine relationship, especially where AI or ML technologies work as interfaces. I am particularly interested in the idea of AI systems operating in more human-like ways, and human beings becoming more like machines. Notice I wrote AI operating and human beings becoming. 

And, this is a painting, not a digital work. The white on blue represents a fake cloud...

I think I will leave it there! 

Cheers,

Kathryn

P.S. Oh! The code 'instructs' HUMAN

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

INTERFACE: BEING

Interface: Being Gouache on paper 56 x 75 cm 2022
 

Interface: Being follows my last painting Interface. And, in my last post I wrote "My head is full of ideas. Interface is a result of thinking about a lot of things. I've been writing and researching for my PhD, and this painting has been inside my head - my imagination - for a few weeks." My PhD research focuses on 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. 

This new painting above, Interface: Being has also been inside my head for a while!

Human-Machine
The human-machine relationship is a key area of interest. As the speed of technological operation, enabled by light-speed EMS frequency transmissions, increases across inter-connected and interoperable civilian and military systems, the human being is often seen as a point of latency. I have written about this with regards to recent news that an AI military lawyer tool is under development - Theatre of War: Law   and Theatre of War: Techno-Seduction 

Interface: Being 
Interface: Being is also the result of weeks of research and thinking. Like Interface, this new painting also references Douglas Hofstadter, the technological Cloud, real clouds, AI, binary code (01001000 01010101 01001101 01000001 01001110 instructs the word HUMAN), and questions about what it means to be a human being in the 21st century. 

In this new painting, I introduce and play with the word BEING. 


BEING

TO BE

BEING HUMAN

HUMAN BEING

BEING 01001000 01010101 01001101 01000001 01001110 

01001000 01010101 01001101 01000001 01001110 BEING

HUMAN 01001000 01010101 01001101 01000001 01001110 

Interface is both a noun and a verb, and is used as both noun and verb in computer science, and also in studies of human beings. 

In a human-machine relationship let's think about what is the interface, and what does the interfacing? Is it code - is it signal connectivity - is it human willingness or excitement (therefore, us) - is it need - maybe money - maybe power - is it speed? What do you think? How are we to BE human beings in a world dominated by accelerating developments in technology?

Painting
My choice of medium - painting - is deliberate. Painting helps me probe questions and pose new questions, without techno-interfaces or techno-interfacing. Painting is not reliant an any EMS-enabled digital or cyber technology, yet this does not preclude critique and study of these technologies. Painting is technologically and operatively detached. Detachment in a world of techno-interfaces and interfacing is a form of critical resistance.  

Cheers,

Kathryn

P.S. You might be interested in my post AI: Posing Questions I wrote this in response to seeing preliminary publicity at the Barbican, London, for a program AI: More Than Human. Unfortunately, I was not in London long enough to see the exhibition program. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

INTERFACE

 

Interface Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2022


My head is full of ideas. Interface is a result of thinking about a lot of things. I've been writing and researching for my PhD, and this painting has been inside my head - my imagination - for a few weeks. 

Here are some ideas, books and thoughts that have influenced Interface 
  • Douglas Hofstader.
    I read Hofstadter's Godel, Escher and Bach (GEB) a number of years ago. A complex, innovative and imaginative book. During my PhD research I've been encouraged by my supervisor to think about ambigrams, a term coined by Hofstadter. I had forgotten that Hofstadter had written briefly about ambigrams in GEB, although I've often pondered on his ideas of  recursion. For Hofstadter, an ambigram is a "calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves." (GEB, p. P-19) It is something that can be read  in both up and down orientations.

    As regular readers know, I often use painted binary code as a way to 'play' with and parody ideas of digital technology. The painted code represents the object or thing that I am painting or expressing. I enjoy hand painting something that is normally represented so precisely in digital media. In Interface, binary code for the word HUMAN is reflected in the text HUMAN. I am visually 'playing' with up and down orientations and meanings. The painting poses questions about what it means to be human in a world where human-machine relationships are increasing. For example, what about human work, including creative work, being co-opted or assisted by algorithms?

    The 'reflection' of the binary code in the word HUMAN, and vice versa, is a kind of ambigrammatic ploy to question how we might maintain a sense of being human in the twenty-first century. The code and the word HUMAN are like shadows, but can we see them? Maybe they are shadows of shadows? Where does that place us?

    The word 'interface' is both a noun and a verb. What kinds of 21st century technological interfaces should we be aware of, as we interact and interface with them? 

  • The Cloud.
    Here I mean the technological 'cloud' - the Internet of Things (IoT) where interconnectivity and interoperability keep human beings in relationship with technological devices and systems. We cannot avoid, indeed escape, interfacing in the 21st century! Maybe this is what the shadows of shadows tells us? The background of Interface appears to be a cloudy tumultuous sky -  but  - is it a stormy sea? 

  • More Cloud
    Keeping with the 'cloud' theme, rather than the blue background representing a cloudy sky, I deliberately painted the binary code and letters in white to provide an alternative. Maybe the code/text is 'the cloud'. If you - the viewer - imagine looking up at this fake cloud, the blue background is a sky, even the cosmos. If you imagine being above the fake text-cloud, then the blue background is possibly a tumultuous sea. Maybe you are in front or behind the 'cloud', where it turns into a wall or barrier? This kind of imaginational flight, from below, to above, to around and beyond, is a critical form of engagement. I call it - imaginational metaveillance
     
  • Painting
    The paint medium requires no technological digital or cyber interfaces, yet it can be used to critique them. The hand of a human being is clearly evident. The dynamism between the paint and the paper surface, between the text and the background, 'speak' to relationships rather than interfaces. They 'speak' to relating rather than interfacing.

  • And, then there are ideas of post-humanity. 

  • And, of course, one of my major interests/concerns - militarised technology and the militarise-ability of civilian technology. In an interconnected and interoperable world interfaces and interfacing are key!

  • But, I will stop here and let you ponder!
Cheers,
Kathryn

Monday, March 07, 2022

THEATRE OF WAR: TECHNO-SEDUCTION

Theatre of War: Techno-Seduction Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2022


WAR
Like many others, the war in Ukraine is occupying my mind. The mix of traditional kinetic activity with improvisation across old and new tactics and technologies again raises questions about asymmetric warfare. 

THEATRE OF WAR: TECHNO-SEDUCTION
This new painting, Theatre of War: Techno-Seduction, has a focus on the human. Yes! By presenting everything as an algorithm, even human beings, I pose questions about  technological systems that are interconnected and interoperable. 

For interconnectivity and interoperability to work seamlessly, foundational operative platforms need to be the same or very similar. Hence my use of painted binary code. 

But does homogenisation at any level strengthen resilience or not? Maybe it poses a vulnerability - like pulling out the bottom card of a house of cards, is there risk of collapse. Where does the human being fit in a world of interconnectivity and interoperability? 

So, what have I presented or 'instructed' in algorithmic form?

At the top is SATELLITE. To the left in small zeros and ones is WAR. In the centre, as a circle of code, is MILITARY LAWYER. To the right is DRONE and angled from it is HELLFIRE. To the left of the circle in SURVEILLANCE. The three small circles of code 'instruct' HUMAN - are they warfighters, civilians, friend or foe, victims? The bottom 'instruction' is TARGET. Is the target human or not? If not a human target, destruction of buildings or infrastructure can still cause human fear, suffering and death. 

All these 'instructed' entities are connected by lines that indicate signals, and therefore, reliance on frequencies in electromagnetic spectrum for connectivity and interconnectivity to enable information and data transmission, surveillance capabilities, sensor access, news broadcasting and so on. 

The painting acts as a kind of map.

HUMAN
Despite major advances in militarised and militarise-able technologies that remove many human operators and warfighters from the immediacy of conflict zones, the death and suffering witnessed in places such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia and now Ukraine, remind us that human beings remain in the loop, as my circles indicate, as victims. 

And, we must not forget that human beings also start wars. 

_______________________________________________________________

In another recent painting and post Theatre of War: Law I explain the reference to military lawyer.

NEWS

Third Text Article

Thrilled that my article "Night Vision, Ghosts and Data Proxies: Paintings By War Artist Jon Cattapan" has been published online for Third Text, a leading peer reviewed international journal dedicated to the critical analysis of contemporary art in the global field. The hardcopy is forthcoming.

Cattapan was an official Australian war artist in Timor Leste in 2008. Key to his subsequent paintings were his experiences using night vision technology while accompanying Australian Peace Keeping forces on night patrols. The effect of the night vision green entered his paintings in ways that continue to 'speak' to us today. Thus, I analyse Cattapan's paintings through a 'future of war' lens-a future we are now living, nearly 15 yrs later. I argue that although the paintings were inspired by experiences in Timor Leste, the images could relate to the iterative modes of contemporary, and likely future war, ie: grey zone, hybrid, informational, cyber, as well as kinetic warfare.


Cheers,
Kathryn
                                                             

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

THEATRE OF WAR: TECHNO-COLONISED PLANET

Theatre of War: Techno-Colonised Planet Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2022
 

NEWS

Third Text Article

Thrilled that my article "Night Vision, Ghosts and Data Proxies: Paintings By War Artist Jon Cattapan" has been published online for Third Text, a leading peer reviewed international journal dedicated to the critical analysis of contemporary art in the global field. The hardcopy is forthcoming.

Cattapan was an official Australian war artist in Timor Leste in 2008. Key to his subsequent paintings were his experiences using night vision technology while accompanying Australian Peace Keeping forces on night patrols. The effect of the night vision green entered his paintings in ways that continue to 'speak' to us today. Thus, I analyse Cattapan's paintings through a 'future of war' lens-a future we are now living, nearly 15 yrs later. I argue that although the paintings were inspired by experiences in Timor Leste, the images could relate to the iterative modes of contemporary, and likely future war, ie: grey zone, hybrid, informational, cyber, as well as kinetic warfare.


Theatre of War: Techno-Colonised Planet 

This new painting relates to a few other recent paintings - examples: Theatre of War: Plague Cloud, Theatre of War: Dromo-Domain and Theatre of War: Law

Invitation to 'Fly'
In Theatre of War: Techno-Colonised Planet you are invited to fly, in your imagination, away from Earth. When you are ready, you peer back at the planet from a distance. And, from this distance what patterns become apparent? For me, I see a planet occupied by an insidious fake cloud that extends from Earth to orbiting satellites. The outline of the pale blue dot shimmers like a ghost behind the 'cloud'. This 'cloud' represents the ubiquitous presence of interconnected and interoperable systems, all reliant on access to, and use of, the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). 

But, what if you are not 'flying' at a great distance from Earth? What if you 'fly' in closer? What if this is an image on a computer screen and you have flown through the window of a ground control station where remote operators sit in front of an array of computer screens? What if the white circles are computer graphics indicating techno-territorial occupation? Given that civilian technology and military technology rely on the same conduit and enabler, ie: the EMS - is the fake cloud an indication of dangerous synchronicity and homogeneity of techno-system operation? Does it represent an ever-ready always-on war preparedness, especially when various iterations of contemporary war are increasingly perpetrated via technological devices and systems - grey zone, hybrid, information and cyber warfare.

Whether you are flying at close or far distance -  your imagination is the critical tool. For me, this is how imaginational metaveillance works to become a resistance to the kind of normalised techno-surveillance of the world in which we live. 

As artist and writer James Bridle notes, "Today the cloud is the central metaphor of the internet: a global system of great power and energy that nevertheless retains the aura of something noumenal and numinous, something almost impossible to grasp."* In Theatre of War: Techno-Colonised Planet I have tried to 'grasp it'. My invitation for you to take imaginational flight, is my way of sharing this quest.
  
Cheers,
Kathryn

*James Bridle, The New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future (London: Verso, 2018), 6.




Saturday, February 05, 2022

THEATRE OF WAR: LAW

Theatre of War: Law Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2022


LEGAL AI
I read a report "VISIMO and West Point Advancing Artificial Intelligence for Judge Advocates" [January 11, 2022] which provides a brief outline of research conducted to develop an AI enabled legal assistant for the military. Not surprisingly speed is the compelling issue. Here's a quote from the report

With the development of autonomous weapons, the speed of warfare is increasing. Stationed at combatant commands and Air Operations Centers worldwide, Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps members provide critical legal advice during combat, including use-of-force decision-making recommendations. However, Judge Advocates are not equipped to keep pace with modern combat.

SPEED
As regular readers know, I have been interested in the issue of speed and war, speed and technology, interconnectivity and inter-operability, for some time. I often refer to cultural critic Paul Virilio's various statements and ideas about speed, particularly the harnessing of light speed [or near light speed]. In regards to AI legal assistants/lawyers, embedded into the Internet of Battlefield Things speed saves time. In doing so, in an interconnected & interoperable system, speed acts as a force multiplier. Whatever is speeded up becomes part of this force multiplication. 

Speed has become an enabler, a tactic and a strategy. It is a purveyor of weaponry, but could also be considered a weapon itself. Speed could also be considered a domain - I call it a dromo-domain

Theatre of War: Law 
This painting was directly inspired by the article mentioned above. Like some other recent paintings I visualise a 'cloud' of circles as a parody of The Cloud, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Battlefield Things. My 'clouds' are also landscapes of the normally invisible ie: the connections enabled by technological interconnectivity and interoperability. In each of my recent paintings, the viewer can soar beyond, below, behind and in front of techno-scapes that insidiously occupy our environment. Sometimes they look like chain mail [with all its military/war implications]. 

In Theatre of War: Law the central circle is a string of binary code 'instructing' MILITARY LAWYER. This circle is connected to an array of circles, some created using the symbol for light speed ie: c, and one circle created with the symbol for photon ie: Y. This references the fact that all frequencies in the electro magnetic spectrum are made up of photons, travelling at the speed of light. The light spectrum is the only frequency we can see with the naked eye. Maybe the red spot is the target?

The circles clearly extend beyond the painting, thus the central MILITARY LAWYER circle may not ultimately be central at all - is there, in fact, a centre point in an always-on interconnected and interoperable system where civilian and military assets and activities intersect? This poses questions about command and responsibility - as Virilio notes “acceleration of reality tends to reverse the principle of responsibility”.[1]

Detail Theatre of War: Law

I will leave you to ponder more. Because, of course, there are many other issues associated with AI, such as bias, unintended outcomes, accidents, nuance that can and will affect outcomes for legal assistant/lawyer tools for military use. 

Cheers,

Kathryn 



[1] Paul Virilio, The Original Accident, trans. Julie Rose (London and Malden, MA: Polity, 2007), 90.


 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

THEATRE OF WAR: INTERNET OF BATTLEFIELD THINGS


Theatre of War: Internet of Battlefield Things Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2022


NEWS
The Visualising War project, University of St. Andrew's UK interviewed me late last year & the podcast Painting Invisible Threats with Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox went live earlier this month. I am thrilled to be part of such a great podcast series

And, there is really insightful accompanying post about my paintings and research Painting Invisible Threats 


Theatre of War: Internet of Battlefield Things

I think this is my 16th Theatre of War painting. The series of works on paper and oil paintings is growing. It would make a great exhibition!

AI Fighter Pilots
Theatre of War: Internet of Battlefield Things was inspired by an article in the The New Yorker, The Rise of A.I. Fighter Pilots by Sue Halpern. She writes "Artificial intelligence is being taught to fly warplanes. Can the technology be trusted?" It is a fascinating article about attempts to teach AI to fly warplanes in a dogfight. Halpern, however, does contextualise this specific aim within a broader military AI pursuit; "Artificial intelligence is being designed to improve supply logistics, intelligence gathering, and a category of wearable technology, sensors, and auxiliary robots that the military calls the Internet of Battlefield Things." 

IoBT
The Internet of Battlefield Things [IoBT] is another way to think about digital and cyber connectivity, interconnectivity, inter-operability, and their contributions to joint [military] force capabilities. Frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS] enable these technologies, with light speed - or near light speed - operative functioning. Speed is now a key tactical and strategic component for modern militaries. Speed saves time, even nano-seconds. Speed and time create advantages in a race for the kind of technological prowess modern militaries aim for. They are viewed as essential for future war preparedness and capability.

AI and ML technologies replace the human being at junctures where human speed and time are viewed as disadvantageous or an impediment. This has spurred increasing developments in autonomous systems. These include, but are not limited to, such things as on-board sensor analysis for target identification and tracking, robotic motility through rough terrain, drone flight especially in a swarm, AI optimisation of EMS frequency use. Interestingly research is being conducted into AI military lawyer capabilities. Here is a quote from a recent announcement VISIMO and West Point Advancing Artificial Intelligence for Judge Advocates that 'speaks' to the issue of speed.

With the development of autonomous weapons, the speed of warfare is increasing. Stationed at combatant commands and Air Operations Centers worldwide, Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps members provide critical legal advice during combat, including use-of-force decision-making recommendations. However, Judge Advocates are not equipped to keep pace with modern combat.

Theatre of War: Internet of Battlefield Things
This new painting references my last oil painting Theatre of War: Dromo-Domain. However, rather than one circle I have painted multiple circles, each created with the symbol for light-speed ie: c. I love the way the circles kind of move, if you look at them intensely. This was a discovery that's quite serendipitous!

Each circle is connected to another circle and some seem to extend beyond the painting. Regular readers will pick up that I am playing with the idea of 'the cloud', visualising it's technological construction - a fake cloud. I am also playing with the ideas of interconnectivity, inter-operability and joint force. 

With "Artificial intelligence is being designed to improve supply logistics, intelligence gathering, and a category of wearable technology, sensors, and auxiliary robots that the military calls the Internet of Battlefield Things" in mind, I have tried to question whether the IoBT is really separate from the IoT [Internet of Things]. I mean, all the activities described in the quote could also apply to civilian needs. Here, I am positing that the militarise-ability of civilian technological systems and devices as a concern. Is the contemporary theatre of war a combination of the IoT and the IoBT? In an age of cyber and information warfare, grey zone and hybrid warfare the civilian world is clearly immersed in the contemporary theatre of war. How about an Internet of War Things - IoWT - as a descriptor?

Cheers,
Kathryn
P.S. The article about AI military lawyers has sparked a few ideas for paintings - stay tuned!