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Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox

8-10 December 2020
UNSW Media Futures Hub

Imaginational Metaveillance: Aesthetic Defiance in the Drone Age

Paper presented on Tuesday, 8th December at 1pm (AEDT), as part of the Drone Militarisms Panel.

Although the airborne militarised drone is a visible and material harbinger of 21st century surveillance and targeting technology, its enabling signals, transmitted to and from land-based, sky-based and space-based assets, are immaterial and invisible. I argue that the invisibility of signals represents a stealthy techno-colonisation of landscape and extended environment, a volumetric occupation that heralds new modes of empire and power. In this presentation I discuss paintings where I depict airborne weaponised drones, nets of signals and parodies of screen-based orienting and targeting graphics. Viewers of my paintings are invited to ‘fly’, in imagination, into cosmic scapes where techno-colonising forces are revealed. Untethered, viewers can ‘fly’ around and beyond drones, their enabling signals, their land-based and space-based support infrastructure, and their surveillance or attack targets. I call this multilayered oversight or witnessing an act of imaginational metaveillance, a ‘veillance’ that does not operatively rely upon digital or cyber systems and platforms, but can keep them and their enabled hardware firmly in 'sight'.  What kinds of anomalies, futures, power structures and empires are revealed when human vision in its fullest – not only seeing with eyeball and pupil, but also in imagination, dreams, daydreaming and visionary thinking - is critically engaged?


Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox is a Brisbane-based visual artist and researcher. She has exhibited her paintings in Australia and overseas. Kathryn has also presented talks about her paintings and research at various conferences in Australia and internationally. Kathryn is a PhD candidate at Curtin University, Western Australia. She completed a Master of Philosophy (Cultural Studies and Art History) at the University of Queensland in 2017. Her research included extensive studies of airborne militarised drones, persistent surveillance and increasingly autonomous systems. This focus came out of a long-term interest in existential risk posed by emerging technologies. Kathryn is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Communication and Arts, University of Queensland.

For more about Kathryn's project, you can visit her website.


an interdisciplinary


Drone Cultures
Virtual Symposium
8 - 10 December 2020
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