Sunday, January 14, 2024


Why War? Gouache on paper 56 x76 cm 2024

Why War? is a question-painting or a painting-question. 

I have just finished my creative practice-lead PhD*. My research focused on increasing military interest in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), as an enabler of technology, a type of weapon, a manoeuvre space, and a domain. In the contemporary era, geographically-based kinetic warfare and new modes of warfare, such as, information, remote operations, electronic, and electromagnetic warfare, rely upon signalic connectivity and interconnectivity for operability and interoperability of systems and devices. War now exceeds geography, extending its operational apparatus and outcomes across the world, and from land to orbiting satellites. It is vitally important, though, to remember that in active kinetic war zones, the horror of war remains physically bloody and destructive.

Planetary war
In the age of algorithms, light-speed signalic connectivity, increasingly autonomous systems, airborne drones, and generative AI, Why War? presents contemporary war as planetary and space-based. Military technological reliance on the EMS martialises the environment from Earth to orbiting satellites. Significantly, this same techno-environment is also crucial for civilian technological operations. 

In the painting the Earth is formed by red dots and painted binary code 'instructing' a ? (question mark). This white code is cross-hatched with lines - perhaps revelations of signals ricocheting around the world? The white-dotted area surrounding the 'planet' is the Earth-to-orbiting-satellite environment. This environment is punctuated with painted binary code 'instructing' the word WAR. The zeros and ones encompass the planet, at the same time as occupying the space between land and orbiting satellites.

The red and white dots could be interpreted as photons, the elemental particles that make up electromagnetic frequencies. All EMS frequencies consist of photons travelling at the speed-of-light in wave patterns. The light spectrum is the only frequency visible to the unaided human eye. But, the dots may not be photons - maybe they are bullet holes, bomb sites, smart-device hacks, social media disinformation dissemination? The dark shapes that surround the 'Earth' could be read as debris, or perhaps stealth space-craft, or maybe visual metaphors for danger? These shapes also appear in a few previous paintings  - THE CLOUD IS NOT A CLOUD, Force MultiplicationGhost Sky, and Ghost Shadows.

Cosmological perspective
The cosmological perspective taken in Why War? is an example of my imaginational metaveillance* approach and practice. Without the aid of augmenting devices I fly in imagination, and ask you, the viewer, to fly too. As you fly way beyond Earth, what do you see? Imaginational metaveillance is a play with perspective - literal, imagined and metaphoric.

Maybe I have painted a photon, rather than the Earth? 

Questions are important!

*You can access my PhD thesis: 
Drones, Signals, and the techno-Colonisation of Landscape
at Curtin's espace 
My thesis includes a chapter on imaginational metaveillance. 



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