Artist Statement for the entry  ‘THE SOUNDS OF EARTH’ in the R & M McGivern Prize, 2016.

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The passing of time often enfolds great ironies. This painted work comprises mathematically accurate blackboard-like jottings on the contents of the Voyager Interstellar Record. The Voyager Spacecraft was launched in 1977 to head on out through the solar system and attempt to reach civilisations that may happen across its path. After 39 years travelling it has just recently left the confines of the solar system. 

The on-board contents of this spacecraft relate to the time period when it was launched: 1977. This painting concerns the gold plated long playing record—the mathematical texts on the outer cover designed specifically for alien life forms to understand—the recorded music in the LP, The Sounds of Earth, comprise the noise of birdcalls, falling rain and the voice of Martin Luther King. 

This painting questions how we might communicate with alien civilisations using fundamental text: the diagram at the top of the painting is a side profile of a stylus and arm for playing an LP record. Beneath this are the dots and dashes of binary code that, when expanded with a universal time unit (of the change is state of the electron of a hydrogen atom), gives the length in seconds of the playing time of the record. These diagrams are etched into the outer metallic cover of the record.

Ironically this time capsule has dated rapidly; there is no hint of the vast potential of the current digital world. But, then again, would we now be any better at communicating our innate humanness using the basic texts of dots and dashes?

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- Artspace At Realm (Melbourne 2016)

R & M McGivern Prize Finalist

THE SOUNDS OF EARTH

2016

Oil on Linen

121 x 91 cms

peterjamessmith21@gmail.com // +61 408 314 554 // Melbourne Australia