Sunday, August 28, 2016


Drone Exhaust Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 

We all know that various devices and systems collect the data we generate. We generate content data eg: information in 'cloud' storage or stored on our computers that may be accessible by others remotely or in-house. We also generate behavioural pattern data from activities such as:
  • how many times we might shop at a certain shopping centre based on various systems such as GPS and WIFI use. 
  • whether we access news online.
  • how often we fill up our cars based on credit card records or even on-board vehicle systems accessible by others including manufacturers. 
  • whether we surf the net at night.
  • 'likes' and clicks on social media.                

"Data Exhaust" is the data that is not core to a particular business or policy agenda - but might be in the future if certain correlations are exposed by algorithmic analysis. "Exhaust Data" is a byproduct that may be useful later. It can exist long after mortal death, so could be resurrected for what may now seem improbable purposes.

The term "Data Exhaust" has been around for awhile - here's an interesting article 5 Things You Need To Know About Data Exhaust that helps explain what it is and some insidious aspects of it.

So "Data Exhaust" got me thinking about drones and their data collection and monitoring capabilities via various sensors. Wide area surveillance systems enable a drone to monitor and collect data over wide areas, 24 hours a day. There must be a huge amount of "Data Exhaust"!

So, here is my painting Drone Exhaust where I have made visible - the drone and its multiple sensors, the wide area under surveillance, the significant data and the drone's exhaust data. I imagine a landscape strewn with digital data. A dronescape! Or a datascape!

I wonder what this exhaust might obscure?


I have again been invited to be a finalist in the Tattersall's Landscape $30,000 Art Award.

My painting is delivered tomorrow 29 August.

The exhibition will be at the Tattersall's Club, Brisbane 5 - 9 September and then it relocates to Riverside Centre 12 - 23 September. 


Sunday, August 21, 2016


 Strategic Landscape Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Broadly speaking the term 'strategic landscape' has both civilian and military connotations. The word 'strategic' signposts that agendas are inherent. These agendas deal with issues such as safety, security, economic advantage, future intentions and mitigations, demographics and so on. The use of the word 'landscape' can either refer to a literal landscape [eg: currently occurring issues in the Sth China Sea] or a metaphoric one [eg: political landscape].

Regular readers will immediately identify my interest in the 'landscape' focus. As a painter of landscapes I am intensely interested in how we think about landscape, especially in a cosmological age. By this I mean an age where the close and far distances of the universe are being explored by a variety of the sciences, including astronomy, nanoscience, astrobiology, astrophysics, quantum physics and more. 

So, I ask, if we speak about 'strategic landscape' are we containing ourselves to planet Earth and its geopolitical 'landscape'? If we think of the universe as a 'landscape' can 'strategic landscape' be expanded to include questions about how we use space, space assets such as satellites, optimal orbits, other planetary assets such as potential mineral deposits? Will space become a contested place where a military 'strategic landscape' draws forth a future where conflict, defensive and offensive systems are developed and deployed beyond Earth's atmosphere? 

  • Google "strategic landscape - defence - military" or similar and you will see that the phrase is used by the defence departments and those who provide academic, political or journalistic commentary on international relations, peace and conflict studies and military activities.  

 My painting Strategic Landscape [above] uses the figure of the drone to symbolise the ubiquity of 21st century surveillance, monitoring, data gathering and targeting. The drone is a conduit connected to ground-based nodes as well as satellites. Thus, it represents the space between the landscape of Earth and the 'landscape' of space. In my painting the scoping 'rays' of the drone's camera cast pathways across and landscape of land and sky. Yet, the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life casts its twisted and connected branches across the land and sky too. The tree is multicoloured to symbolise the nuances of life that cannot be detected by the drone's scoping devices. Things like desire, humour and soul are embraced by the colour and held close - safe. The boxes and cubes, perhaps representing individual lives, float amongst the drones scoping rays and the tree's branches. They are coloured too and I wonder why? 

Maybe scoping, which I propose is implied in the word 'strategic', means that agendas contained in 'strategic landscape' imperatives miss a lot? 


Sunday, August 14, 2016


 Scoping The Abyss Gouache on paper 19 x 22 cm 2016

Taking a cue from social media sites where headlines grab attention I've decided to channel the grab-line! Maybe not as successfully as most media sites, and thankfully for good reason.  I don't think "10 Things You Did Not Know About Kathryn" is really going to grab attention or "10 Things Kathryn Keeps Secret" or "Kathryn's Most Irritating 10 Habits: According To Her Children".

However, to tickle my own humour I decided that I'd list 10 things that interest, irk, inspire me. They are all related to my art practice either closely or tangentially. And, it helps me celebrate my 10th year blogging - posting consistently once a week August 2006 - August 2016!

But, before I go onto my list. Why did I choose the painting above Scoping The Abyss? 

The drone's scoping devices seek out the abyss where insurgency and terror lies, but I wonder if the scoping actually creates the abyss? Moving away from the military connotation let's think of the painting another way. The ubiquitous nature of connectivity, via an array of devices enable monitoring, surveillance, data collection, data retention and targeting. This creates a virtual abyss where, for example, misleading headlines about celebrities, politicians, events etc throw us into an abyss of superficiality and vacuous diversion. The result is a kind of inertia - maybe an abyss in itself?

Here's an example of being 'targeted' - I googled Suburu cars - yes daydreaming about a new car - and within minutes Suburu advertisements had appeared on my Facebook page. Helpful - NO. Diversionary - yes for a minute or two. Slightly creepy - YES!

Me with two paintings - I am 14 in this photo.
I exhibited in an adult show when I was 14 and sold my first painting at the exhibition.


I have been inspired by it for decades and I continue to  see how its symbolic potency intersects with contemporary life. It has meant something across cultures and religions for eons and I propose that we ignore it at our own peril.

Beacon Oil on linen 92 x 102 cm 2014

The scientific study of the universe across time and scale helps me with my fascination with perspective , literal and metaphoric. 

Cosmic Auroboros Oil on linen 120 x 150 cm 2012
This post for this painting is the most popular on my BLOG 

My current M. Phil research is focused on militarised technology, an incredibly fascinating but somewhat scary area of technological development. I have a particular interest in drones! You can see this in a few of the paintings in this post and in many of my recent posts. 

New Shoots Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

I grew up in rural Queensland. How we humans 'see' landscape is, I propose, an important element in how our species might survive this century. I combine the tree-of-life, cosmology, technology and more recently, militarised technology into my landscapes where I experiment with literal and metaphoric perspective. Disrupted Horizon [below] is one example of how I combine my various inspirations. 

Disrupted Horizon Gouache on paper 10.5 x 24.5 cm 2016

I have two spaces/studios in my house. One is the garage [two photos below] and the other is a funny room that used to house the hot water system. The latter is used for my works on paper and the former for my bigger oil paintings. Both a really messy. I love my studios.

I love painting. I have previously sculpted with various mediums [clay, concrete, assemblage]. I have also worked with etching, screen printing and lithography. I have worked in installation including one where video was an integral part of the work. I have had experience with photography as my brother is a keen photographer. As a young teenager he had a dark room in one of the outbuildings on the farm we grew up on. None of these mediums gets my daydreaming, thinking, problem solving like painting does. 

Painting at Kindergarten - a few decades ago!

7. VISUAL ARTS POLICY - This is an irk!
Two policies introduced in 2010 and 2011 by the Australian Labour Government of the time have severely and detrimentally impacted on visual artists' earning abilities, plus the flow on effect to various suppliers and dealers. The LNP Government, since election in 2013, has not addressed either issue. I get on my sopabox about these two things - but won't here. I'll just note what they are. These two policies are: 
  • 2011 Changes to the status of art/collectibles as an investment in Self Managed Super Funds. 
  • 2010 The introduction of the Artists' Resale Royalty Scheme. 

My exhibition at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation in late 2005 is a highlight of my career. I sat with the exhibition each day over two weeks and met the most amazing people from all over the region, Africa and Eastern Europe. The conversations I had with so many of these people, men and women, have had a profound influence on me. I KNOW that the arts can help create bridges across cultures - BUT unfortunately governments, especially Western ones, often see the arts as a show and tell type exercise or opportunity. I have witnessed this a few times...sadly.

At the opening of my exhibition at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation 2005. 
L to R:Clementine Fox,  Mr Khalfan Asst Undersecretary Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, Hon Rod Welford Queensland Minister for Education and the Arts,  Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox. 

I enjoy public speaking - weird I know.

10. M. PHIL
I am a full-time student at the University of Queensland and loving it - most of the time! I am investigating how two Australian artists George Gittoes and Jon Cattapan represent militarised technology in their paintings. ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING!!! Both artists are remarkable. 

The topic fed from my own work and now the research is feeding back into my work. Also, as I paint I seem to work through some of my academic ideas, which result in new insights. My own work is not part of the degree, but once I have finished the degree I will have a body of work that reflects how it inspired me. 

George Gittoes has an exhibition "Night Vision" here in Brisbane at Mitchell Fine Art Gallery right now - it closes 20 August. If you are in Brisbane you MUST go and see it. It's confronting, but the integrity of the work exudes - George has worked in war and conflict zones for decades and pays witness to the horror of war in multi-layered ways. 



I have again been invited to be a finalist in the Tattersall's Landscape $30,000 Art Award.

I deliver my painting on the 30th August.

The exhibition will be at the Tattersall's Club, Brisbane 5 - 9 September and then it relocates to Riverside Centre 12 - 23 September. 


Saturday, August 06, 2016


Two Worlds Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

On the 9th of August 2006 I wrote my first BLOG post. I have written a post once a week since then. That's 10 years this month - August 2016! 

The first painting Wonderful Possibility was uploaded on the 10th August 2006. And, here it is again below. This is what I wrote about the painting When I painted this painting my thoughts were about the abundance within our earth and the majesty of the Universe. I ask myself why is so much possibility squandered by focusing on differences when all peoples of the world share history/time.

It's 10 years since I wrote those words, but has much changed? Yes and no. 'Yes', to advances in technology. 'No' to the squandering of possibility, focusing on differences and ignoring that we all share the planet, history and time...and thus we should really get along with each other, because [for the time being] there is no other 'home' for us.  


In 2006 my tree-of-life, embedded within the Earth in Wonderful Possibility signified possibility, connectivity, hidden energy forces, the expansive nature of life. My interpretation of the tree-of-life is a continuous presence in my paintings, either as a cascading element, as in Wonderful Possibility, or as a beacon or signal for life. It acts as a beacon in one of my latest works on paper [above] Two Worlds 

Wonderful Possibility Oil on linen 120 x 160 2005

I've chosen Two Worlds for this post, because I feel that it represents one of the biggest changes that has occurred in the last 10 years...the feeling that we a are living in...two worlds.  

When I painted Two Worlds I was thinking about how digital technology has created almost another universe where algorithms reign - where data is monitored and stored - where connectivity is about devices rather than us - where digital profiles can go on existing long after we die - and more. In this painting the drone, representing a kind of Big Brother element as well as its military intent, is scoping - monitoring - perhaps targeting. Is Big Brother targeting you to sell you insurance, hamburgers, clothes or something else - OR - is the 'eye in the sky' targeting you to kill you? 

In Two Worlds a drone is scoping, but it seems to miss picking up on the nuances of life. 

Both paintings are landscapes or what I like to call 'cosmic landscapes'. I have a quest to un-tether landscape from Earth-bound horizons. Why? To force new perspectives that take into account our universal environment - to perhaps make it obvious, that for the time being, Earth is our home - situated in a universal environment that, as yet, has not offered us any real alternative. 

Perspective, in all its literal and metaphoric possibilities, is a key element in my work.



In late 2014 I received a request from the State Library of Queensland to have my BLOG archived n perpetuity on PANDORA the national archive of online sites of significance and ongoing research value. Needless to say I was delighted to have been acknowledged. 


Sunday, July 31, 2016


Data Data Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

This painting was inspired by an article written by media theorist Mark Andrejevic and law academic Mark Burden. The article "Defining The Sensor Society "  appeared in Television and New Media (2014). Apart from being a fascinating article that examines the increased use of sensor devices  and privacy considerations resulting from always-on surveillance, monitoring etc, there are a few phrases and sentences that have stimulated images in my head. 

Data Data is one of these images. And, the sentence that struck a visual chord, resulting in this painting, is "For drones, the signal-saturated sky is a sea of electromagnetically stored data that can be swooped up, processed, refined, and perhaps put to use."  [p.5] What a sentence! 

So, with Data Data I have played with the idea of "swooped up" data capture by a drone.  I have painted wave-like electromagnetic transmissions which seem to flow into some kind of storage system. The transmissions can also flow out from here, if needed. As the words "perhaps put to use" indicate, the data may not be useful, but it's collected anyway. Why? Because in the future it might be useful! Patterns of behaviour, for example, may not flag attention until other data signals some kind of correlation. 

However, "put to use" has serious implications when it is a drone that may be the instrument that wields actions as a result of data that is identified as useful. 

The painting below Sky of Eyes takes the idea of surveillance and monitoring into an imagined place where the sky is now inhabited - by eyes.  The drone is considered as an always-on unblinking eye. This has nothing to do with a human's vision capabilities. And, here I take the word 'vision' to mean not only sight of eyeball and pupil, but also imaginary vision. For me a drone's capacities are not about 'vision' but more about scoping. This links with a drone's other significant task - to target!

Both paintings continue my quest to re-consider ideas of landscape, to untether it from earth-bound horizons in order to reveal un-traversed perspectives that may provide insights into the future and humanity's place in it - perhaps....

Sky of Eyes Gouache on paper 19 x 26.5 cm 2016


Saturday, July 23, 2016


 Drone Life Shadow Play Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Media theorists have appropriated the figure of the drone to describe a process of "droning" - of life!* It is a way of describing the interactivity between the multitude of sensors we, either knowingly or not, engage with each day and the processes of data collection, monitoring, data mining and usage. It's not really just about collecting content, but also patterns of behaviour, preferences and so on. This data may be used by advertisers, policy makers, app developers and others to target individuals or groups of people with offerings that run a gamut of possibilities.  However, correlations between and amongst collected data may not be identified as useful until some time in the future. The future identifiers of these correlations may not be working for advertisers or policy makers, but possibly more interrogative, covert or malign entities. 

So where does the actual militarised unmanned air vehicle or drone fit in? It's all about its data collection capabilities, surveillance from a distance and its monitoring of data for targeting purposes - albeit a different kind of targeting to that employed by advertisers and policy makers!.

The military drone acts as a transmitter, receiver and collector of information. This information can come from its own cameras, or from data gathered from mobile phones, GPS systems, and other sensors and devices that help tract patterns of behaviour, as well as other more concrete types of information. The major task is surveillance in order to identify, monitor and target individuals or groups whose online, physical or other behaviour attracts attention for being aberrant or potentially so. In the military or counter-insurgency sphere a drone's sensor mode can turn very quickly into killing mode with the deployment of Hellfire or guided missiles. 

* Associate Professor Mark Andrejevic, from Pomona College, USA is someone who writes compellingly about what he calls the "droning of experience". In fact he has written an article called The Droning of Experience  published in Fibre Culture Journal. I urge you to read it. 

Droned Landscape Gouche on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

So, my paintings Drone Life Shadow Play and Droned Landscape are my imaginings of droning experiences! Rather than allude to a droning sense I have painted drones - Reapers actually. 

Drone Life Shadow Play - no matter where we are or what we are doing there is a likelihood that we are transmitting data - when we make a phone call, walk into a large shopping centre, drive through a toll way, buy something with a card, use a computer, drive our cars and so on. 

I imagine shadows dancing around us...shadows we cannot see, shadows from things we cannot see, actions we are taking that are unconscious yet prevail as tracks to be brought to light possibly in a far distant future. I imagine the collected data, stored in huge servers housed in massive buildings, like its an array of captured shadows - shadows caught before they could be cast. Yet, the data is not like a soul or memory or even a story. In a way it masquerades as a shadow that could be a door to a dark black abyss. Now there's a 'happy' thought!

In my painting the yellow drone casts a shadow. The yellow tree-of-life casts one too. One shadow looks like an abyss - the other does not.

Droned Landscape - I imagine the landscape covered with sensors and targets. It's like a landscape overlay that obscures where the horizon and sky meet. Note the tree-of-life standing as a beacon, perhaps a guiding signpost - if we bother to look up from our various devices and see. 



Monday, July 18, 2016


 Scoped Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

As regular readers know I am researching militarised technology for my M. Phil thesis. I am examining how two Australian artists represent militarised technology, such as unmanned air vehicles [UAV], commonly called drones, and night vision capabilities, in their paintings. The thing is - I am inspired by the reading I've been doing as I research drones, night vision, just war theory, the development of autonomous weapons, robotising the military and law enforcement...and...existential risk. The latter is where my academic research sprang from. I've been very interested in existential risk posed by emerging technologies for a long time. So, whilst my research topic was stimulated by my private interests expressed in my paintings are not part of the academic research. It is not a practice-lead degree. However, at the end of the degree I will have a body of work, mainly works on paper, that will reflect the research focus and process.  

Military drones operate in the sky - surveillance, monitoring, targeting and attack - currently aided by a team of remote human operators, but perhaps autonomously operated in the future. The aerial aspect of their 'vision' or scoping both intrigues and horrifies me. 

For decades many of my paintings have taken the aerial perspective. I've played with it and hopefully extended it into the cosmos as my interests in cosmology drew me into the close and far distances of the universe. I've often said and written that I believe we need to develop skills in 'seeing' multiple perspectives [literal and metaphoric], even simultaneously. I now think we need to develop these skills ASAP. Why? Because, the verticality of threat imposes literal boundaries on perspective. It also imposes psychological boundaries of fear formed by power structures that in many ways are also formed by fear. 

It seems to me that as powerful nations threaten silently from above, terror leaks out horizontally across the land in random acts - the randomness undetectable from above [or anywhere] until its destructive aftermath bloodies the landscape. As terror's fear closes perspective down. trying to engage in conversation, where differing perspectives of life can be discussed, becomes almost impossible. 

Literal and metaphoric perspective are both threatened. 

 Eyes In The Sky Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

In these three paintings you can see how I have played with aerial perspective. I've embraced my love of landscape, especially seen from above, to help develop my ideas of drone scoping. I call it 'scoping' rather than 'vision' because, for example, the function of the multiple gorgon stare cameras fixed to a drone are not really seeing - rather their lens infrastructure compels them to 'scope'. The word 'vision' is far too expansive in its multiple meanings to reduce it to functions of surveillance and targeting - cameras to guns/missiles. The word 'vision' also anthropomorphises the drone in ways I that demand critical analysis.

Eyes In The Sky refers to the name often given to UAVs or drones ie: eyes in the sky. Well, are they eyes in the sky? In a sense they are, but if you think about the idea of scoping, then they become something else. I propose they become scopes in the sky - camera scopes - gun scopes. My painting makes fun of the idea of eyes in the sky. There's more to this painting, but I will leave that to you to think about.

Scoped plays with perspective - are you above the drones looking towards the landscape? Are you below the drones looking up at them. The green glow of night vision capabilities seems to enable you to see targets on the ground, but maybe you can also see the outlines of clouds and targets amongst them? The area between earth and drone flight paths is a potential battle 'field'. Ah ha...but what about the satellites that transmit messages between drones and their operators? How far does the potential combat zone extend?

New Shoots is a positive painting! Here I have included my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life to indicate that whilst life seems to be targeted, its roots will spread out 'underground' - and ultimately new shoots will thrive. The drone could either be 'read' as being airborne or crashed!

New Shoots Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016



Saturday, July 09, 2016


 Expanded Zones Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

I've had a productive time in the last week or so. I presented a paper at a Media Devices Symposium at the University of Queensland yesterday 8 July. My paper "Militarised 'Vision' Through the Eyes of Australian Artist George Gittoes" was received very well. The two days of the symposium were filled with enthralling, provocative and stimulating papers all related in various ways to technological devices. The photo at the bottom shows me presenting my paper. 

As regular readers know, I have had a long interest in technology, stemming from my father's enthusiasm for HAM radio and in his latter years, computer and digital technologies. I've previously written about my childhood growing up on a grain farm, not only surrounded by endless skies and distance, but also seemingly endless gadgets, aerials, communication devices in our cars [even in the 60s] etc etc. My mother's interests in art, history, writing and culture, coupled with my father's interests, have manifestly contributed to how I approach my art and research studies.

The Media Devices Symposium was incredibly stimulating not only intellectually but also creatively. The reading group I attended for the 5-6 months preceding the symposium has also been incredibly stimulating. Then... all the reading I've been doing for my research...especially looking into militarised technologies such as airborne drones and night vision capabilities...has also fueled my mind and my imagination. Some recent posts are:

Boundaries Zones and Perspectives 
In Focus 
Horizontal of Vertical?

The three paintings here in this post are all inspired by recent readings and research. Cloud Storage is the most recent painting. Each painting has a 'dark' side...

However, I prefer to only allude to the dark side, rather than thrust it forward. Why? Once a viewer realises that the innocuous appearance has a dark underbelly it becomes evident that the innocuousness is actually a partner in a dangerous subterfuge. Looking beyond the surface is always an interesting thing to do, and I suspect we may not do it enough.

 Cloud Storage Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

I am not going to write about each painting. However, generally speaking when I painted each image I was thinking variously about surveillance, war and conflict zones, remote access, privacy issues, interactivity, data collection, targeting, monitoring - AND LIFE! Aestheticising the unseen aspects of technology that influence so much of our lives gives me a kind of contrary joy! 

The paintings can be 'read' as landscapes too - cosmic, aerial, body-scapes...the distance of the rural Queensland landscape - the flat tree-less Pirrinuan Plain where I grew up -  is always present in my work.

I have already written that each painting has an underbelly, so I will leave the rest to you.  

Data Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016

Me presenting "Militarised Vision Through the Eyes of Australian Artist George Gittoes" at the mdeia device Symposium Univerity of Queensland 8 July 2016. Image on screen is Discarded oil on canvas 1995 by George Gittoes.

George Gittoes is having an exhibition "Night Vision" in Brisbane 27 July - 20 August, at Mitchell Fine Art Gallery, Arthur St, Fortitude Valley. The opening is Friday 29 July and there is an artit's talk the next day. Check the gallery site for details HERE

George Gittoes' webpage HERE