Monday, August 28, 2017


Sensored oil on linen 50 x 50 cm 2017

We humans are increasingly 'sensored' beings. By this, I mean, we are equipped with, attached to or carrying devices that are operated by digital and cyber systems that interconnect across skies, land, seas and space. They interconnect using even more devices such as satellites, land-based receivers, servers and more. 

The devices we interact with, whether a phone, a car, a computer, an implant or other - 'sensorise' us. They make us a part of, or even a node in, cyber and digital networking systems. And - in a funny way, they also censor/ise us, but maybe we have not fully comprehended this yet? 

Transhuman - Translandscape
As our bodies carry devices in ways that transform us into transhuman-like creatures, they also transform the way our landscape or environment operates or is viewed. For example, skies 'colonised' by unmanned weaponised airborne drones change the way the sky is perceived. This is particularly so in places such as Yeman, Somalia and Afghanistan where the skies are seen by many as harbouring a potential lethality. In these cases the landscape becomes vulnerable, offering little refuge when vertical surveillance penetrates even the privacy of everyday life. A landscape crisscrossed with humans carrying and using devices, and buildings equipped with even more, develops another layer - not geographic - but, an unseen layer of signals. These signals variously traverse the globe, bounce from earth to satellites and back again. A 'translandscape' possibly? Another recent painting and post Space Net refers to this kind of activity. 

In Sensored red 'signals' emanate from behind a cloud. What lurks behind this cloud? A drone maybe? The red signals continue beyond the painting. They indicate a wide net, a net of surveillance. In doing so, they reveal how the sky is now 'sensored' in a way that is not dissimilar to the 'sensorising' of human beings. It's an insidious process - don't you think? 

Like many of my paintings - dronescapes, landscapes. cosmic landscapes - the viewer could be above the clouds looking down upon a landscape, maybe a seascape. In this case a drone is possibly lurking below the clouds. However, the viewer could also be on the ground looking up into the sky where a drone could potentially be lurking above the clouds. With these two possible perspectives the painting somehow provides a powerful stimulus for imaginative flying around a drone - in ways that turn the surveillance back onto it.    



Now for something a bit different. The photo below is me in the very back of a landcruiser. We've just driven around checking cattle. 

I spent a fabulous weekend out in Western Queensland - Roma, Mitchell and Mungallala. 

An old school friend has a cattle property beyond Mungallala. We had a camp fire, damper, homemade sausages. And, we helped check on cattle, their water [it is very dry]. We saw a brown snake - early for the season. We saw hundreds of kangaroos, both dead an alive. And, emus - so many - all alive! We went to the Mitchell Art Show, the Mitchell Camel and Pig Races, and had a wonderful dip in the Mitchell artesian spa. One of us bought a hat, a country man's hat, from the fabulous Samios Trading Post store in Mitchell. Two people in our group were from Europe and it was so much fun to see country Australia through their eyes. Everything, absolutely everything, was new to them. 

We spent a day in Roma too. Visited Moorelands nursery where you can have a bite to eat amongst an oasis of plants, bush crafts, children playing and more. We also visited the BIG RIG which tells you all about the history of the oil and gas industry out there. This recent history has been somewhat controversial with the increase in coal seam gas exploration. 


Friday, August 18, 2017


Tactics Oil on linen 70 x 100 cm 2017

In this new painting a play of tactics is under way! 

The airborne weaponised drone is targeting the tree-of-life. The tree is isolated in a 'kill box', a virtual three dimensional graphic that delineates a zone around an identified target. Emanating rays above the tree-of-life indicate ongoing surveillance by another drone or maybe a control base of some kind. Whatever it is, the signals represent persistent surveillance by manned and unmanned entities. At the end of each white signal-ray, a small red box indicates potential further targeting.


The tree-of-life has sent its roots under the 'kill box'. A survival tactic subverting the digital reach! The tree's roots seek out places that a drone cannot penetrate - maybe literal subterranean places, but maybe spiritual realms? The tree succeeds in sending out new green shoots, to bring forth life. BUT, it may not represent human life - and - it may not be on this planet - or - even in the universe! This may sound loopy, but I am thinking of theories about multiverses, and I am also thinking about a future where humanity/life may have left planet Earth. Indeed, we humans are already planning settlements on Mars. But, Mars is still in our solar system. What about humanity/life in other solar systems, even galaxies? An extreme escape!

This is another of my cosmic landscapes - or - dronescapes. I like the fact that the viewer can be, at one instant, above the drone, and at another instant, below it or along side of it. By untethering imagination from Earth-bound horizons and taking cosmological perspectives all of us can turn the gaze-scope back onto the drone! Now that's a tactic!

In an age where the sky in many parts of the world is colonised by human-made but unmanned airborne threat, the resulting grip of fear diminishes all of humanity. In an age where the marvels of the universe unfold through scientific research, the containment of our earthly skies and the resulting impost on perspective, are indictments on humankind. 

Taking concepts of landscape into the cosmos helps - for me anyway...


Thursday, August 03, 2017


"Return of the Turps" is not about me returning to binge drinking - I've not ever binged my alcohol! Rather, it is about me returning to my oil painting. Yes, the smell of turpentine again wafts through my studio [aka garage] and my house. 

After nearly two years completing my Master of Philosophy research thesis at the University of Queensland, I have not only submitted my thesis for examination - it has been returned by both examiners, with terrific feedback, and no requests for changes or corrections. I am VERY happy. 

While I was researching I did not give up my painting practice. Rather, I only worked on paper, using gouache and watercolour paints. My paintings were not part of my university assessment, but as regular readers will know, I've been quite productive! I have quite a large body of what I call "dronescapes". They reflect upon my academic research into militarised drones! 

However, since submitting my thesis, I have now returned to my oil paints. 

In my last post Research Into Drones: How It Has Influenced My Creative Practice I explained how my university research topic came out of my painting practice - and - how the research has, in turn, influenced my practice. But there is something else. What has surprised me is the how two years of only working on paper has caused slight changes in how I paint with oil paints on stretched canvas. I cannot quite put my finger on it yet, but it feels different, and I think the paintings I am working on, look slightly different. This is welcomed! As a painter I want to develop and respond to influences. Regurgitating the same thing or look is not on my agenda - I bore too easily!

New oil paintings in progress. On the left is The Green Eyed Drone. It's not quite ready. The other two paintings are in their very early stages.

The two studio photos above show various works in progress. As you can see from the photo immediately above, the painting on the left, The Green Eyed Drone, continues my interest in thinking about militarised drones, surveillance and more. The tree-of-life is also there. I might discuss this new work in my next post - depending on whether I think it is finished. Time will tell.

The painting on the easel in the photo immediately above, is also in the photo at the top. However, in the top photo I have worked on it and, as you can see, I continue to work on it. I am thinking of calling it Zone. 

I am thoroughly enjoying being in amongst the mess of oil paint - paint on my hands, in my hair even, on my face [a surprise to see in the mirror as I quickly check my appearance before leaving the house]. I am also enjoying wearing very old clothes, wiping my hands across them, dabbing my brush on sleeves - and so on. 

Until next week,