Tuesday, February 28, 2023


Ghost Shadows Oil on linen 92 x 112 cm 2023

Ghost Shadows is a new painting, inspired by thinking about the Royal Australian Air Force and Boeing collaboration to develop the MQ-28 Ghost Bat drone, previously called the Loyal Wingman drone. I have a number of earlier paintings that also reference the Loyal Wingman/Ghost Bat drone. You can see them in my 2021 online exhibition Wingman (MQ-28 Ghost Bat) Online Exhibition

Ghost Bat
With this new painting I was thinking about the name Ghost Bat, the name of a real Australian bat, applied to a drone. So, that got me thinking about ghosts, bats and shadows, stealth and invisible aspects of contemporary war. I was also thinking about landscape, geographical, technological, military, and other-worldly. As regular readers know I am currently undertaking my creative practice-lead PhD with an examination of increasing military interest in the electromagnetic spectrum. 

I 'see' the technological landscape as mostly an invisible one, a stealthy signalic techno-colonised landscape from Earth to orbiting satellites. My aim, in my work, is to make the invisible 'landscape' visible! Yes, hardware and devices mark and move through our physical environments, but enabling signals are transmitted wirelessly or via discrete cables [eg: undersea internet cables]. I am mostly interested in wireless signaling/transmissions that enable light-speed or near light-speed connectivity, interconnectivity, operability and interoperability of civilian and military systems and devices. 

Shadow or Shadows 
Initially I was going to call the painting Ghost Shadow, but then I decided to make the shadow plural - thus, Ghost Shadows. The plural draws in multiple aspects of drone and robotic technologies - especially the fact that they are nodes in a system. Thinking imaginatively, what kinds of shadows does the militarised techno-system cast? Could the system be a multi-faceted shadow that we don't see - except in my painting? Maybe we should go looking for shadows! If we thought of ourselves as bats, let's lurk in the night, in the dark, using imagination to see things beyond sight. 

Fragmented Force
In  Ghost Shadows a Ghost Bat drone is identified as a fragmented force, a strange craft flying through the sky. This fragmentation 'speaks' to the drone's many capabilities, those disclosed by the developers, and those that have not been disclosed. The fragmentation evident in the whole painting alludes to pixels and the techno-reliance on imaging capabilities for operation, orientation, ISR, and targeting. Yet another interpretation could be that bits of the Ghost Bat drone have been flung into the sky. Has it spawned more bats? Or, has the drone been compromised? The dark large and small fragments might be shadow-indications of more drones or piloted aircraft - after all the Ghost Bat drone has been designed to accompany fighter jets. Thus, is this a scene of a mid-air battle between autonomously flown drones and piloted craft - debris scattered. But, is the debris material, or in an age of accelerating technological development, is it the debris of hopes and dreams?

Lots more to say - but I will leave the painting with you now! What do you think of the red fragments!?