The article I chose focused on allegations that New Zealand’s GSCB were (are) conducting mass surveillance on Pacific countries. The article seemed to push the idea that New Zealand is playing the ‘double agent’– perfidious behaviour under the guise of friendly patronage–playing with the double-edged nature of paternalism. I wanted to communicate the idea of a seemingly benign New Zealand having a sinister underbelly–carrying out surveillance on its neighbors.
In order to do that I unsettled the benign nature of the iconic kiwi toy, the Buzzy Bee, which surrogates as a satellite or drone, whose underbelly is equipped with surveillance equipment (the camera). I also had a ‘cheeky’ play on the kiwi ingenuity of No. 8 wire, where it is transformed into network wires (also a play on tapping into wires) carrying information from the bee drones. I also incorporated a honeycomb, beehive pattern into the background, to allude to the idea in the article that suggests our PM (running the Beehive) is aware of the surveillance. I wanted an image that was uncanny, on the surface it was warm, fuzzy, familiar and nostalgic for the viewer, yet one can’t help feeling perturbed by the subtle ‘unheimlich’ feature of the surveillance underbelly of the Buzzy Bee. I wanted to rewire the semiotics of these icons.
To develop my objective I needed to fashion an image with illusionary innocence and harmony. I used approximate symmetry, radial symmetry, the reputable nature of the circle, triadic and primary colors, not to mention toys to achieve this trickery; the image appears to be friendly, mimicking the guise of New Zealand. The naivety of the image is pushed through its resemblance to pop art of the 60s, a period of artless art and cold war espionage. The red antennae (also a play on transmitting antenna) in the foreground, however screams, ‘Stop! danger is lurking ahead’. The large Buzzy Bee’s lines and perspective draws the viewers eyes towards the camera situated in its underbelly and suddenly the black pitted eyes of the buzzy bee seem disconcertingly hollow. I created shadows to give the image depth but to also cast sinister silhouettes across the pacific, the buzzy bees are once more warped, mimicking vultures.
I worked in passes to create my image, constructing the skeletal structure first and then fleshing it out in stages. I had to pay particular attention to shadows and light fall, as this not only contributed to the depth of the piece but also added an element of realness to an image I was asking the viewer to suspend their disbelief in. I also fabricated depth by creating prominent objects in the foreground (the large buzzy bee), mid ground (the globe and buzzy bees) and the background (the honey comb network). I wanted to capture graphic movement in my piece, I achieved this through the No. 8 wire which performs the double agent–as tapped wires and as the speed lines of the Buzzy Bees. I wanted to follow the Gestalt principals, in that the whole image is ‘other’ to it’s parts, that it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, approachable and thus draws the viewer into looking at the sinister ‘uncanny’ smaller details of the piece.