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Image of Laura de Búrca's artwork, Always Afternoon

Visual Art: Golden Record featuring Laura de Búrca at Galway International Arts Festival

17 - 30 Jul 2017 (Past)

Galway Arts Centre

The Voyager Golden Records, created to go on board Voyagers 1 & 2, contained recordings varying from two people kissing to mathematical equations. This group exhibition looks at our need to record, document and create objects in order to make sense of the world and our place within it.

Featured artists include: Dorothy Cross | Laura de Búrca | Ed Devane | Jane Locke | Susan MacWilliam | Lucy McKenna | Suzanne Mooney | Lorraine Neeson | Paul Nugent | Niamh O’Malley | Richard Proffitt | Jennifer Walshe
Curated by Maeve Mulrennan

17 – 30 July 2017
Galway International Arts Festival

Presented by Galway International Arts Festival and Galway Arts Centre with support from Arts & Disability Ireland
Laura de Búrca was mentored by curator Maeve Mulrennan as part of Arts & Disability Ireland and Fire Station Artists’ Studio’s Mentoring Programme 2016

Opening: 2 pm, Sunday 16 July 2017, Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street
Performance: 3 pm Sunday 16 July by Jane Locke
See full Galway International Arts Festival programme here

Galway Arts Centre will be offering guided tours of Golden Record. The tours will be free, family friendly and open to the public. The tours will take place
Wednesdays & Thursdays 11.30 am & 2.30 pm
Fridays at 11.30 am
Read more information at Galway Arts Centre

Inspired by the Voyager Golden Records created to go on board Voyagers 1 & 2, this group exhibition looks at our need to record, document and create objects to make sense of the world and our place within it. The Voyager Golden Records contained sounds varying from ocean waves to two people kissing; the images ranged from mountains to mathematical equations. Instructions for both playing the phonograph and for finding Earth in the universe were etched onto the phonograph. The Voyager 1 spacecraft left the solar system 2013; it is now in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before Voyage 1 & Voyager 2 make a close approach to any other planetary system; it is now the farthest away artificial object from us, some 13 billion miles away in interstellar space. It is unlikely this will ever have an audience outside of us.

The featured artists are work that could be seen to be a communication about how we see ourselves and our relentless pursuit to document subjective experience, in the same way that the Golden Records did. The records demonstrate the subjectivity of representation and the tension between thing and image. Our pursuit of understanding can also become a pursuit for meaning. The familiar can become unfamiliar through scrutiny. The exhibition will feature works that explore landscape, the built environment, spirituality and our limited understanding or futile attempts to understand and pinpoint our place in the universe.

The exhibition Golden Record refers to the tension between image and object and our selective reading of images. Some of the artworks could be documents for a new Golden Record, or an alternative to the Utopian view of the world presented through the Golden Record project. Carl Sagan, Chair of the committee that selected the contents of the Golden Record, noted, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” This ‘hopefulness’ suggests aspiration, of a resistance between thing (our world) and its reduction to image. The Golden Records present a reality that does not exist, to an audience that may never experience it. This exhibition presents works that explore this resistance and the continuous pursuit to represent.

For further information on the Golden Record: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html http://www.radiolab.org/story/91520-space/

Artist Biographies:

Dorothy Cross works with sculpture video and photography. Her work ‘Virgin Shroud’ is in the collection of Tate Modern in London. Dorothy Cross’ work moves from opera to object in a territory between idea and nature. She is represented by the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin, and Frith Street Gallery in London. For the Golden Record Exhibition, she will show a photograph of a gilded human skull containing a meteorite. It is part of a new series of works bringing together elements from the body and space – the meteorite having once occupied the celestial realm and the bone the terrestrial.

Laura de Búrca’s work explores and seeks to express the notion of unseen forces and the balance of these held in nature.Three young siblings on a beach stand watch over a silent mountain. This anchoring image – a photograph taken by the artist’s mother – endures throughout the series as the children, of which the artist is one, are transported through vast dreamlike realms and dominions of dark mystery. We are carried into unreal worlds and shimmering alternate futures. Though isolated, the trio are unified; together they are grounded as they face into forces that are shifting and unknowable.Five images from the series are exhibited here. Their titles derive from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lotos-Eaters’ in which mariners are brought to shore on a languid and soporific land where they resolve to stay forever.
“In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon”

Ed Devane is an Irish multidisciplinary artist working primarily with sound. His work encompasses electronic music production, musical instrument design and manufacture, educational workshop facilitation and interactive sound installation.As a musician, he has released music under his own name; he is currently working on new beat driven material (techno / electro / industrial) after a long hiatus in experimental improvisation land. Ed has completed several bespoke instrument commissions for a growing list of clients around the world. Through designing and making these custom instruments Ed has explored a variety of traditional and modern building techniques including wood turning and carving, CNC milling, casting and 3D printing. These commissions have led to larger installation commissions that have been interacted with in IMMA, SARC, RCC Letterkenny and MusicTown Dublin. Ed has given workshops at Edinburgh International Science Festival, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Hunt Museum Limerick, National Craft Gallery Kilkenny, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios Dublin and many other art centres in Ireland. For the Golden Record Exhibition Ed will be showing a collection of Musical Instruments.

Jane Locke is an artist, scientist and independent researcher whose practice is predominantly expressed through drawing and performative talks. Her work often finds itself wondering at the role of institutions in the creation of truth, the dissemination of knowledge and the awarding of credibility.For the exhibition, Jane Locke has distilled her research project ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’ which she worked on over two years into book form. The book is presented as part of a miniature museum along with artefacts and mementoes of the project. Starting with a night time project titled ‘26 Days of Dreams from the Night Garden’ in the atrium of the National Blood Centre, a curious series of events stemmed from watching plants at twilight. The tale follows the artist trying to unravel the relationship between the plants, nanoparticles, dark molecules, barristers, distilleries and blue rabbits. As part of The Golden Record the artist will present a fascinating twenty-minute illustrated talk detailing the project on the 16th August.

Working with video, photography and installation Susan MacWilliam’s work explores obscure and overlooked histories and considers perceptual phenomena and the world of the paranormal and super sensory. Working as both observer and participant MacWilliam has worked closely with prominent parapsychologists and psychical research institutions, including poltergeist investigator Dr William G. Roll and the Dermo Optical Perception Laboratory of Madame Yvonne Duplessis, Paris.
MacWilliam’s recent work AN ANSWER IS EXPECTED (2013-14) is a body of sculpture and video work, which considers the historic and ground-breaking experimental ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) and telepathy work of parapsychologist Dr J.B. Rhine (1895-1980). ‘An Answer is expected’ will feature in the GIAF exhibition. The piece considers human curiosity, and our quest for answers and proof. Regarded as the Father of Modern Parapsychology Rhine was a leading researcher and published author. Rhine was interested in testing ESP, telepathy, psychokinesis and precognition through laboratory methods acceptable to science. Rhine began his renowned experimental research in the 1930s and developed tests employing the identification of unseen cards and the prediction of dice rolls. It was developed from the artist’s 2011 residency working with the Rhine Research Center and Parapsychology Laboratory Records, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. The residency was funded through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Lucy McKenna’s work is concerned with information systems that attempt to explain the universe and our place in it. Through her projects, she traces different forms of data extraction, collection and communication developed by humans. This can include methods of scientific experiment, invention of technology, intuitive belief, or myth. The documented interpretation of anomalies, mysteries or unexplained phenomena in the world is very present in her work, along with semblances of the tools and equipment developed to perceive these events. Her works seek to unfold the information hidden in those spaces where the analytic and the intuitive concur. Her practice is a multidisciplinary one consisting of drawing, photography, film, installation, sculptural works and sourced object.
‘In Perpetuity’, is a work in progress that describes a language for communication with extra-solar civilisations. At its beginning is a consideration of the particle-wave phenomenon in quantum physics, where particles behave differently when they ‘know’ they are being observed. ‘In Perpetuity’ considers a language that may behave differently when being observed by multiple observers. This work is an alphabet as a visual vehicle for meaning and mode of transferring information. It considers the functionality of how a new alphabet might appear under certain conditions and travel vast times and distances to transfer information, rather than what the information might be.

Suzanne Mooney is an Irish born visual artist currently based in New York. She is a graduate of the RCA, London and has exhibited nationally and internationally. ‘Something to Grasp, Nothing to Hold’, is a new body of work exploring objects in flux and the life of things beyond human agency. Central are fragmentary forms caught in between states of usefulness and uselessness, inert material and animated matter, man-made and natural. Shaped by time and nature, the objects depicted in the photographs have gone through a gradual process of transformation. Leached, scarred and dulled by continuous motion, these enigmatic forms appear to hover out of the darkness with no clear markers indicating scale, density or weight. Loaded with a visceral sense of calm, sucking our eyes into their depths, but forcing them to remain on the surface of the image. Here, glass is subject, object and means through which the work comes about.
As a material, glass affords transparency, durability as well as fragility; it is typically used to look through rather than at, similarly Something to Grasp, Nothing to Hold forms a basis to explore the meaning, value and future of things.

Lorraine Neeson was born in Killarney, Co. Kerry. She graduated from the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork in 2002 with a BA in Fine Art. In 2005, she received an MFA in Fine Art (Media) from The Slade School of Fine Art in London where, on graduating, she was awarded the Adrian Carruther’s studio award and bursary at ACME Studios, London (2005 – 2006). She lives and works in Ireland and lectures in Photography and Lens Based Media (Fine Art) at Limerick School of Art and Design.
‘Threshold’ consists of a single ‘locked groove’ vinyl record, in which a voice endlessly repeats the words ‘I can’t go on’. It is also the middle line from the closing phrase of the Samuel Beckett novel, The Unnamable (“You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on”). The infinite looping at a specific point in time is analogous to that of a broken record. The voice lingers on an aporetic threshold or impassable passage. There is no possibility of escape. As the statement is pronounced, the proclamation is both verified and contradicted, through methodologies of looping and endless repetition.

Paul Nugent’s works are influenced by photographic reproductions of eighteenth century paintings from art history books. Each painting painted blue has the appearance of a print maker’s printing plate or of the early photographic process of cyanotypes. The photographic references are inverted through the painting process into negative images creating a kind of visual representation of the subconscious. This recalls Freud’s analysis of the photographic process of the negative plate being like the sub-conscious. Like images from a storybook, they show figures in conversation or preoccupied in their own thoughts. The backdrops from which the figures emerge are painted in layers of transparent Prussian blue, transforming these woodland environments into graceful interior worlds. That which is opened to us for viewing has the character of a dream or memory evoking what the biologist and theorist Gerald Edelman called the remembered present, “as if participation and conscious flourish only in the hazy light of memory”. Paul Nugent’s work has always explored notions of history. Nugent will be exhibiting a series of painting titled Séance in the Golden Record Exhibition. For the Séance series Nugent has used photographs that he took as references for the paintings of the asylum chapel at the hospital Salpetriere in Paris France. His paintings depict the uninhabited interiors of the asylum chapel at Salpetriere as spaces that still retain trace of human presence, historically when it was used by inmates when the building was an insane asylum, when it then became a more humane mental institution of medicine and today when what remains is a time capsule of past future and future past. The paintings are made to allude to a kind of photographic documentation but in the making of the paintings they are imbued with my own personal memory of place and the trace of something made by hand.

Niamh O’Malley uses video, drawing, painting and sculpture, to examine ways in which we try to access the world through images. Her works often act as filters and invite us to enter the spaces between objects and places and our ideas of them.‘Nephin’ is a silent video loop in black and white. It was filmed from a car through a pane of glass which had a small black mark painted on it. It presents the circumnavigation of a mountain in the west of Ireland. She was interested in the sense that that image of the mountain is constantly eluded; the path of the road sometimes twists the eye/camera away from the landscape, bumps in the road unsettle the image, the hedges occlude & reveal and the mountain itself shape-shifts as you travel. There is no point in the video where the camera settles upon a framing. The black mark on the glass is fixed in relation to the lens and becomes, in her understanding, some sort of extension of the eye or even the pointed finger. A marker of attention, trying to settle on its object, it steadies the chaotic foreground; it is a constant reminder of the intention, – to see the mountain.

Richard Proffitt is inspired by landscapes, objects and cultures that encourage histories and fictions to become attached to them. Subjects he is interested in including hippie and punk sub-culture, ancient civilisations, wilderness, wastelands and docklands, travellers and drifters, post-apocalyptic fiction, and the art of indigenous peoples. Within his work Proffitt aims to make connections and find resonance between these somewhat disparate subjects. Proffitt’s work is often realised as sculpture and installation reminiscent of makeshift ceremonial relics and ritualistic hang outs evocative of hybrid cultures and belief systems. For the Golden Record Exhibition, he will feature an installation relating to spiritual discovery and disappearance. It is a shrine to the lost and the taken, the found and the guiding lights we collate and cling to. The installation will be accompanied by a soundtrack of tape collages of spiritual music, vocal samples, found speech composed by himself.

Jennifer Walshe studied composition with John Maxwell Geddes at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Kevin Volans in Dublin and graduated from Northwestern University, Chicago, with a doctoral degree in composition in June 2002. Her chief teachers at Northwestern were Amnon Wolman and Michael Pisaro.She is currently Reader in Music at Brunel University, London. Jennifer’s work has been performed and broadcast all over the world by ensembles such as Alter Ego, ensemble récherche and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. In addition to her activities as a composer, Jennifer frequently performs as a vocalist, specialising in extended techniques. Walshe’s work is available on many labels including Mere Records, Interval Recordings, Farpoint Recordings and Migro. For the Golden Record exhibition she shall be exhibiting a collection of books accompanied by a golden cassette and violin.

Laura de Búrca, featured in group exhibition Golden Record at Galway International Arts Festival 2017

A billion years from now, when everything on Earth has crumbled into dust, the Voyager record will still speak for us

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan


#visual art
Galway Arts Centre
Galway International Arts Festival
Laura de Búrca
Maeve Mulrennan