Wednesday, April 19, 2017

STIRRING THE DARK CHASM

Stirring the Dark Chasm Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 017


Fiery environments have featured in a few of my recent paintings. Here in Stirring the Dark Chasm a swarm of weaponised drones seem to be engulfed by flames of their own making. But, are they flames erupting from bomb sites where destruction has ensued? Or, have the flames been released from some kind of abyss? Maybe both! 

But look closely, trees-of-life are also emerging from the flames, or is it an abyss? The trees are escaping the heat as they trail their branches across the cosmic sky. Safe passage for life and humanity, perhaps.

There is always hope!


COSMIC LANDSCAPE - DRONESCAPE
This is another of my cosmic landscapes. It is also a dronescape. The cosmic perspective enables the viewer to distance themselves in ways that may trigger new ways of looking at things. The viewer could be looking up at a sky, witnessing a battle taking place above a landscape. Maybe it's a battle of machine against machine at some stage in the future? Or, the viewer could be looking down onto the drones and their fiery bedevilment. In this case, the viewer maybe looking upon a landscape, where an abyss has opened with intent to consume unmanned forces. Skyscape/landscape!

As in many of my dronescapes and cosmic landscapes the viewer can, using imagination, fly around in my paintings. When I was a child I flew! Please check out my painting and post When I Was A Child I Dreamt I Could Fly

And, what are the metaphoric possibilities? Are accelerating developments in drone technology taking humanity on a high speed path to oblivion? Or, are increasingly autonomous systems offering us freedom, security, fulfillment? Or, are we replacing existing problems with a set of new ones ultimately even more difficult to resolve?  The abyss... is of course...metaphoric. But, the trees-of-life do offer hope.

Cheers,
Kathryn


Friday, April 14, 2017

A NEW SUN, A NEW DAY

A New Sun, A New Day Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017



Geopolitics
Geopolitical agitations are currently heightened. We have the USA bombing Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on Syrian citizens. The identity of the perpetrator of this horrendous act is contested. One country points a finger at Syrian leadership and another points a finger at covert actions by others, ghosts that seep into imaginations, adding to a fear which cannot find a ground on which to orient itself. Additionally, we have Russia and the USA metaphorically 'fisting' each other, trying to show who has the biggest muscles. Syria seems to be the mega-giants' proxy battlefield where they have inserted themselves into a civil war that seems diabolically intractable. The Russian - USA 'situation' is compounded by ongoing allegations of shifty cyber world maneuverings designed to spy and gain advantage of the other. Then, we have the USA stirring the secretive North Korea, China sitting somewhere in the middle - and the USA dropping a massive bomb onto an alleged ISIS enclave in Afghanistan. And...all of this is in addition to a long list of intrigues, attacks, would-be attacks, aftermath of attacks and political posturings occurring all over the globe. 

The Media
The media positions itself as an informational source, a valuable contributor to societal awareness of politics and its posturings. BUT, the media is also now a contested entity. Fake news has eroded the the media's spine, left it desperately tying to stand up straight. Harm has been done. What are we to believe? Public confidence is low. A lack of ground on which to orient our fears is possibly both a result of and cause of the media's inability to stand as an informational beacon. Many of the ghosts that stir fear, shifting it from place to place, exist in the virtual world where unseen algorithms spread 'news' along digital pathways at near light speed. This 'news' pops up in social media sites, online news sources and so on, to be sent back along digital pathways in quick response to 'likes', 'shares', comments and emoji reactions. 

How can we humans keep up? The ground is seemingly swept from under our feet, replaced by a constantly shifting virtual one. And, without a ground on which to firmly stand, orientation of any kind is difficult - maybe that is the real crime, the real attack, the real covert success?

A New Sun, A New Day
This 'skyscape' painting suggests waking up to a new day where peace reigns and sustainability of all kinds flourishes. Just imagine a day, and another day and another, without war, conflict, threat, surveillance, hunger, environmental erosion and all the the other plights of life in the 21st century! Imagine the ground restored so we can contemplate a new day, watch its slow birth as the sun rises and sets.

Imagine

Let us be sure that the new day, with its new sun, is not a virtual reality, one delivered by screens designed to keep our attention away from strife in the real world.

Imagine

Maybe a new sun and a new day are signs of peace on Earth - but - maybe not. 

The new sun could indicate a new planetary home?

______________________________________


P.S. My last post was also about the sun - or a sun SUN - 01010011 01010101 01001110



NEWS

NEWS
International
* Dr. Christopher J Fuller's book  See it?Shoot It: The Secret History of the CIA's Lethal Drone Program has very recently been published by Yale University Press. Dr. Fuller is an historian at the University of Southampton, UK. In the lead up to the book's launch he was asked to write a post for the Yale University Press blog, "Yale Books Unbound". He asked to have one of my paintings head his post which is titled "The CIA's Drone Policy Under Trump". Dr. Fuller's post was published online at "Yale Books Unbound" (April 10, 2017).

* Very excited to tell you that my dronescapes feature in a book review of Ian Shaw's Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance. The review was written by Kate Kindervater, from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. Ian Shaw is an academic at Glasgow University who writes about drones, populations, surveillance etc from a human geography point of view. Needless to say I am thrilled that my work has been contextualised within important social and political discussions about drone technology. The review can be read HERE.

Australian
My painting The Tree-of-Life Sends its Energy Underground is on the front cover of the forthcoming Australian Women's Book Review. If you click HERE you will be taken to the AWBR site where you can see the painting and also link to an article by me. 

Cheers,  Kathryn

Friday, April 07, 2017

SUN - 01010011 01010101 01001110

SUN? Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


SIGNALS
I imagine our world increasingly 'marked' with invisible signals. These signals emanate to and from various electronic devices, digital and cyber devices, drones, and satellites. Airborne drones mark a kind of mid-point node, deployed to augment surveillance, targeting and and possible killing. In many of my recent dronescapes I attempt to make the insidiousness of signals visible. I paint signals emanating from drones, either visible or obscured. I paint signals and drones in cosmic skies to take the viewer's mind to places and perspectives beyond Earth's crust and atmosphere, beyond the low earth orbit of GPS satellites and beyond the geostationary orbit of communications satellites.

The cosmic appearance of my dronescapes enables viewers to 'fly' around drones, and their surveillance and scoping signals - to keep an eye on them! It is a defiant act!     

SUN?
In SUN? I have painted emanating rays that appear to be a sun's rays. But, take a closer look - the rays are painted with strings of binary code 'instructing' the word SUN - 01010011 01010101 01001110

Ah ha, the rays are not a sun's rays but the surveillance signals of an obscured drone - maybe? The ray-like appearance could be an attempt at decoy, camouflage, stealth, covert intent, propaganda. The binary code exposes the subterfuge.

By making code visible, even aesthetic, I try to expose the increasing influence algorithms have on life in the 21st century. I have a contrary enjoyment painting code by hand - it's never going to be perfect, although it might look good!

Why is the tree-of-life upside down? Well, there could be many reasons. It may have obscured itself from the surveillance by mimicking the ray's orientation. It may have sent its roots underground for protection. It may not even be on planet Earth! Maybe it's a sign that humanity has 'escaped' a roboticised Earth - or - maybe its an indication of alien life somewhere else?



NEWS
Very excited to tell you that my dronescapes feature in a book review of Ian Shaw's Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance. The review was written by Kate Kindervater, from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. Ian Shaw is an academic at Glasgow University who writes about drones, populations, surveillance etc from a human geography point of view. Needless to say I am thrilled that my work has been contextualised within important social and political discussions about drone technology. The review can be read HERE.

Cheers,
Kathryn

Friday, March 31, 2017

ANTHROPOCENE

Anthropocene Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


In Queensland, Australia, where I live, we have just experienced Cyclone Debbie. Luckily I live south of where the eye of the storm hit, but this cyclone was so massive that it has affected the entire Queensland coastline. Take a look at images taken from the International Space Station HERE

So, with Cyclone Debbie in mind, my new painting Anthopocene 'speaks' to what seems to be an escalation in natural disasters not only in frequency, but in size and ferocity over the last few decades. The term Anthropocene has entered our lexicon to describe a new geologic era, one where human activities have influenced atmospheric, geologic, biospheric and hydrolic systems on Earth. You can read more about the Anthropocene on various websites including Anthropocene   and Smithsonian . com

ANTHROPOCENE
I started Anthropocene well before Cyclone Debbie threatened. Why? Because, things like drought, mass forced migration of people, floods, coral bleaching and firestorms intersect with increasing surveillance, political tensions, social schisms, terrorism and war. These in turn intersect with increasing developments in technology, emerging new technologies, exploration of space and neo-liberal hijacking of seemingly everything in order to monetise it. All sounds rather dire really!

In Anthropocene I take a cosmic view of human activity! There's fire, coral bleaching, flooding rains, drought, mass forced migration/exodus - and - cross-hair targets, a weaponised Reaper drone and space based assets [GPS and communications satellites] representing their dual-use civilian/military status. Then, there are some fervent red trees - trees-of-life, their branches turned inwards as if creating an airway where their filaments-leaves can filter invasive forces - a promising breathing space. Even the radiating surveillance rays of an obscured reconnaissance force cannot infiltrate the breathing space. 

Perhaps life has other plans for us? 


NEWS

My painting The Tree of Life Sends its Energy Underground is the front cover of the next Australian Women's Book Review Please click on their website where you can see the image, plus read my artist's statement. And, you can order the review! 

In February an interview Portfolio: Dronescapes by Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox I did with Maggie Barnett from the Centre for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, New York was published on the Centre's fabulously informative website

Cheers,
Kathryn
www.kathrynbrimblecombe-fox

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SOMEWHERE

Somewhere Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


Somewhere may be on Earth, but then again it may not. 

It could, however, be evidence of life on another planet, an exo-planet enticing human beings with promises for life after Earth - or - post-Earth as I like to call it. 

It could be a simulated landscape experienced via virtual reality. The lively colours a distraction from the erosion of our earthly home? Imagine sitting inside your driverless car, windows blackened so you can enjoy your virtual landscape of choice! Looking out the window, what a novelty!

Or, maybe it's a remnant of Earth flung into the universe upon the fiery demise of the sun and the solar system?

SCIENTISTS' EXCITEMENT
Over the last few days I have attended some fascinating events at the second World Science Festival held in Brisbane. I've heard some very excited scientists talking about the future of autonomous vehicles of all kinds, new ways of urban living, robotic companions for the very young and very old, 'fail-safe' artificially intelligent systems and more. The scientists' excitement is infectious. Their expertise and imaginations are to be admired - indeed many scientists seem more imaginative than artists! Somewhere could be a future landscape where the downward emanating rays are signals from benign interconnected systems designed to assist society in a variety of ways [protected from hijacking/hacking by malevolent forces, of course]. The trees may indicate a preserved/restored natural environment, the small crosses could be autonomous vehicle parking and recharging hubs, The upwardly trailing string of variously sized dots could be a holiday route to the Moon! Whether its our Moon or not, is unknown.

CONTESTED FORCES
And, here's another possibility, one where contested forces battle. Regular readers will guess that the trees are my representations of the tree-of-life. As they branch upwards, the downward emanating rays could be the scoping signals of obscured airborne surveillance drones, possibly armed? There are so many though! The small crosses may be target points or the cross-hair markings of unmanned sniper drones? Leaves and small dots cascade across the landscape. What do they 'know'? Are they seeding new life for a safer future - ready to regrow and send up new shoots when the time is right? Is the upwardly trailing constellation of coloured dots and circles a sign of escape or seepage - like blood loss? 

I 'see' Somewhere not as one landscape, but many. Each one presenting lots of questions. I also think there's something about it being quite beautiful. 


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You might be interested in previous posts:

and


Cheers,
Kathryn

P.S. I also attended a robot programming workshop at the Queensland University of technology [QUT] that was part of the World Science Festival. My team of three programmed our robot to 'draw' a tree. I have a bit of an issue with describing what the robot did as 'draw', but I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. I am working through some thoughts and will probably write about them at some stage.






Saturday, March 18, 2017

STAR BLOOD

Star Blood Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017



The Cosmos is crying.

Tears of star blood.


_______________________________________________________________

Are you below or above the tears?



For clues 

and 



Cheers,
Kathryn

Friday, March 10, 2017

ANOMALY DETECTION

Anomaly Detection Gouache and watercolour on paper 56 x 76 cm 2017


The term anomaly detection is a technical one. It is an automatic system for detecting unusual behaviour, patterns or occurrences in, for example, live or stored data, such as film footage. Anomaly detection can allow preemptive actions. Regarding military drones the identification of anomalous behaviour, for example multiple vehicles moving at speed from different directions towards one destination, can trigger an alert for increased surveillance and readiness for potential attack. A drone's wide area surveillance capabilities mean expansive areas can be surveilled, and sophisticated detection and recognition algorithms are employed as another layer of surveillance monitoring. In civilian arenas anomaly detection systems are useful for a variety of monitoring requirements that range from security to environmental protections and more.

In Anomaly Detection I have turned drone surveillance on its head. Here, I have painted the drones as if pixelated, as if a detection and recognition algorithm has detected the anomalous behaviour of three armed drones converging on the tree-of-life hovering at the center of the image. The viewer of the painting could be monitoring the drones from the ground, looking up - or - from the sky/space looking down. In this way the viewer becomes aware of the power of perspective, even in imagination. 

COSMIC PERSPECTIVE
Cosmic perspectives implore us to seek distance, both close and far, as a way to examine ourselves and the planet. From vast distances it becomes obvious that planet Earth, despite discoveries of possible habitable exo-planets, is our only home for the foreseeable [and beyond] future. We need to look after the planet and ourselves. By exploring perspective and engaging with multiple perspectives maybe we'll discover more anomalies that highlight risk in ways that trigger precautionary, preemptive, restorative and pro-actionary activities?

I am really pleased with this painting - I actually think it is quite beautiful - in a way that achingly screams for the tree-of-life's survival in the face of potential destruction.



* Please check out the recent interview Portfolio: Dronescapes by Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox with Maggie Barnett from The Centre for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, New York.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

BODIES OF WORK


   
Screen shot from the Center for the Study of the Drone, Bard College, new York  interview with me about my dronescapes. You can read the entire interview HERE  


I am very excited about the interview the Center for the Study of the Drone conducted with me. The Centre is “an interdisciplinary research institution that examines the novel and complex opportunities and challenges presented by unmanned systems technologies in both the military and civilian sphere”. 



BODY OF WORK


 
 
 

Top: Through the Mists of Time                Alternative Ways of Being 
Middle: Between Existences          Persistent Surveillance and Strike
Bottom: Swarm Surveillance                          Across Time and Space


Not all my recent paintings feature the figure of the drone. However, some feature a drone's surveillance features, such as signals. Others feature the tree-of-life in cosmic landscapes. Whilst individual paintings can stand alone, a body of work gives space for paintings to play off each other. By playing off each other certain aspects of imagery take on 'loaded' meanings that may not be otherwise evident.

It is often interesting to look at much earlier work to place it with recent work. I don't know about you, but with the figure of the drone and its capabilities in mind the paintings below take on an urgent reminder of our need to look after ourselves and the planet.



 Elemental 2009

Halo 2009



Cheers,
Kathryn