Friday, July 22, 2022


Human in the Loop Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2022

My work is included in the University of St. Andrew’s, UK, newly launched online Museum of Peace . The Museum exhibits an array of different approaches to peace in different themed ‘rooms’. You can see my exhibit in the Visualising Peace room, plus a couple of the other rooms.

I am thrilled that Otilia Meden, in her thoughtful essay "Cyber Peace and Artivism, with Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox" has connected my earlier work with my more recent paintings.  


Autonomous Systems
As technological systems increasingly include autonomous functions, a plethora of questions about human work and agency arise. These questions relate to human labour and human decision making. 

With regards to weapon systems, autonomous functions within a system raise questions about a creeping attrition of human participation. This usurped participation could include activities such as, analysis of data, decisions about deployments of human and non-human warfighters, assessments of kill zones, identification of targets, and more. Autonomous functions enabled by AI and machine learning decrease delay, often caused by human beings taking time to think. Speed is increasingly viewed as a tactical and strategic edge, even a purveyor of weaponry, if not a weapon itself. I have a particular interest in speed, more specifically light-speed electromagnetic spectrum frequency-enabled connectivity and interconnectivity.

Two Paintings
The two paintings in this post, Human in the Loop and Threat, reflect upon the concepts of  'human in the loop' - 'human on the loop' - 'meaningful human control' - 'meaningless human control'. 

In Human in the Loop [above] binary code 'instructs' the word Human. This is followed by text "in the loop.". This is a reference to another recent painting Theatre of War: Law  which is a response to recent news about research into an AI legal assistant for in-combat military situations. The human being becomes an algorithm?

In Threat, binary code at the bottom of the painting 'instructs' the word HUMAN. The aerial view of what looks like a military air force base, seems to be viewed on a 'screen'. Perhaps this is drone footage? Does the code mean that a human being is monitoring the surveillance, identifying the threat, targeting the threat - or - does it mean a meaningless presence?

I use the word 'instruct' because code is essentially instructional. By painting code I attempt to make visible normally invisible instructional forces that drive our techno-world. Painting is a form of resistance, as it does not feed data back into the system. A digital photograph of a painting feeds data about the photo, not the actual process of creating the painting. 

Internet of Battlefield Things
Both paintings also indicate that interconnectivity via 'the Cloud' or the Internet of Battlefield Things [IoBT], enables interoperability across multiple domains. Another recent painting Theatre of War: Internet of Battlefield Things responds to this permutation of 'the Cloud'. 

 I have just listened to the proceedings of a very interesting and serious conference "The Kill Cloud: Networked Warfare, Drones and AI" hosted by The Disruption Network Lab, Berlin, March 2022. Sobering listening. It was a call-out to look beyond the drone [hradware], and to examine the system. This is exactly the focus of my PhD research, examining increasing military interest in the electromagnetic spectrum [EMS], as an enabler of technology, a type of fires, a manoeuvre space and a domain. Without reliable access to the EMS, connectivity, operability, interconnectivity, interoperability - at speed - could not occur. 

And, there's a lot more to write and think about, but I will leave this to you!


Threat Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2022