Thursday, December 28, 2023


Force Multiplication? Gouache on paper 56 x 75 cm 2023

Ghost Bat Drones
Three MQ28-Ghost Bat drones form an horizon arc across the painting. I've painted them differently to indicate that as a team accompanying fighter jets, they have multi-modal capabilities. They all have  autonomous functions. The Ghost Bat drone is a collaboratively developed drone between Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). It is the first military aircraft developed in Australia in more than 50 years.

The three drones occupy the sky-scape, like stealthy super-heroes - maybe.

Integrated Force
This is an ambiguous painting - deliberately so. What are the dark drone-fragment-like shapes? Do they indicate proliferation of techno-power? Is this an image of integrated force? Or, do the fragments indicate disintegration? The recent Australian National Defence Strategic Review (DSR) (2023) calls for an integrated force, rather than a joint-force. This term, like joint force, refers to national capabilities, but also integration with allied capabilities, for example, via partnerships such as AUKUS. Integration is enabled by signalic  connectivity and interconnectivity. These then enable interoperability of systems and devices. Interoperability is a foundational capability for integrated force structure.

Let's get back to the dark drone-fragment-like shapes. Imagine signals connecting them all. Now imagine a disconnection - a disruption to the enabling signals. At one instance the painting could be an exemplar of integrated force - and - at the next instance - an image of catastrophe. I am reminded here by security scholar and analyst Jaquelyn Schneider's idea of the capability/vulnerability paradox.

Is the sky falling?
What about the pale blue shapes that mimic the sky as well as the drone-fragments? Note there are no dark drone fragments above the Ghost Bat arc. However, there are some blue fragments below the drones. Is the sky falling? Or, are these pale blue 'fragments' indicators of space-based assets? If they are, can we read them as friendly or not? In the DSR, the MQ-28A Ghost Bat is described as a "sovereign autonomous air vehicle designed as part of an integrated system of crewed and uncrewed aircraft and space-based capabilities." (DSR 2023, 61). 

If the pale blue fragments are indicators of space-based assets, then the painting reveals a war zone from Earth to orbiting satellites, a techno-colonised landscape. Integration across the five domains - land - sea - air - cyber - space - is clearly a complex aspiration. 

What could go wrong?

Clearly a lot more to say!!! For example, I've got more to say about skies, fake skies, fantasy and fake fantasies....deception.


I am very happy to report that I am now a Dr. 
My PhD was conferred by Curtin University, Western Australia on the 1st December. 

You can access my PhD thesis: 
Drones, Signals, and the techno-Colonisation of Landscape
at Curtin's espace 


Dr. 😊 Kathryn

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