Friday, August 19, 2022


Battle Cloud Gouache and watercolour on paper 30 x 42 cm 2022


Regular readers will know of my interest in trying to visualise the 21st century techno-cloud  - often just called The Cloud. Also, the Internet, and even the Internet of Things (IoT). 

But, did you know that the military also have terms like the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) and the Internet of Military Things (IoMT)

All these 'internets' rely on the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) for connectivity and interconnectivity, plus operability of hardware and systems, as well as inter-operability. The term dual-use, in a world where civilian technologies also rely upon the EMS becomes almost non-sensical. Why? Because in a world of not only kinetic warfare, we now have remotely operated systems, cyber warfare, hybrid warfare and information warfare. These draw civilian technologies into the various physical and cyber battlefields of our time. Our mobile phones, computers, remotely update-able vehicles and appliances, GPS, social media updates, cloud storage, cyber home assistants and more, can be, and in many instances are, tracked, hacked, surveilled, harvested for data, used as nodes and purveyors of viruses. 

What if the Internet of Things is ultimately a subsidiary of its spawned IoBT or IoMT? Where does that place the civilian in terms of complicity, unwitting or not? 

Battle Cloud

My visualisations of 21st century technology and its Cloud are created with paint - oil paint or gouache and watercolour paints. I love using paint to critically examine contemporary militarised and militarise-able technology. Why? Because, unlike the technology I critique and examine, painting is not reliant on the EMS for creation, exhibition or storage. This independence provides a critical distance. It is a form of resistance.

I listened to a fascinating conference hosted earlier in the year by the Disruption Network Lab in Berlin. The conference was called The Kill Cloud. One message from this bluntly titled conference was that the airborne drone needs to considered as part of a network. This resonated with me, and is why my PhD focusses on increasing military interest in the EMS as an enabler of technology, a type of fires (weapon), a manoeuvre space (tactics) and a domain (strategy). Any robotic hardware, whether an airborne drone, or a ground, sea or under-the-sea robotic system, functions as part of a network. The network is enabled by signals transmitted via EMS frequencies. As frequencies become more congested, due to not only increasing military needs, but also civilian needs, there is a heightened sense of urgency for militaries to dominate the EMS. Congestion is only one issue, another is contestation from state and non-state malign entities. 

I chose to paint Battle Cloud in red, after hearing the term 'kill cloud'. Maybe I could have called it Bloody Cloud or That Bloody Cloud. I don't think I need to explain the title any more - you 'get' it.

The washed out text running across the painting is binary code 'instructing' the word CLOUD. I like the way the code seems to dissolve, as if it is actually cloudy. The illusion of connection...

Three Other Cloud Paintings: 
There are actually more than three...scroll through the blog and you will see them.