MLitt Fine Art Practice School of Fine Art

Russell McGovern (He/Him)

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

As long ago as 45 millennia, our ancestors journeyed deep into caves to make drawings of animals and paint stencils of their hands on the walls. In our era, we have launched space craft carrying greetings and images which represent all the peoples of the world (via the Golden Records on Voyager 1 & 2). They will continue on their journey through the void of interstellar space for eternity.

Across the oceans time, our desire to say ‘we were here’ has taken many forms.

The work in this exhibition was inspired by the hand stencils in the cave art of Lascaux, France, and the Golden record aboard the Voyager space crafts.

I wanted to make work that explored our human desire to leave a mark or trace of ourselves for posterity. I was interested in exploring the idea of looking back at our culture from the distant future; what if anything will we be remembered for in our era?

I was inspired to use elements of the Burns song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in the work.The near universal understanding of the song as a symbol of fraternity good will to all – I think – makes it an appropriate symbol of all that is worth remembering of our recent culture.

For the work I had two vinyl records made with an audio track where I sang the the lyrics “We’re here because we’re here/ because we’re here / because we’re here” sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

I had the a records cut to be played back at 1 rpm (revolution per minute) as opposed to 33 and 1/3 or 45 rpm that records would normally be played back at. I then had the record imaged under a scanning electron microscope. The reason for doing this was to fit the audio onto the smallest possible area on the record. A record groove is only 0.5 microns wide (0.0005 millimetres)

At this tiny scale, to have any chance of imaging the whole of the audio
track I had to find a way of fitting into the smallest area possible on the record. Making the record playback at 1 rpm was the best solution.
Once the records had been scanned and imaged, I mapped the patterns of the record groove from the electron microscope images on to the circular pattern of beams inside the installation.

When walking around the installation you are walking around a representation of the actual audio of the song cut into the groove of the 1 rpm record.

‘We’re here because we’re here…’

'But seas between us braid hae roar'd'

'But seas between us braid hae roar'd'

'But seas between us braid hae roar'd'