Cardiff/ Miller

Link to the Sydney Biennale Page

Last Friday, I went to Pier 2/3 to check out the Sound Installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. This work was a world premier called “The Murder of Crows”. It consists of 100 speakers, envelloping the viewer/ listener into the artwork allowing them to experience the physical and sculptural qualities of sound.
… “The artists create ‘a sound play’ that physically envelops the listenr in a moving field of sound and music. Morphing in a dreamlike way from war marches to lullabies, the piece is a requiem to today’s battered world” (Sydney Biennale Program pg.28).

I found this work to be inspiring since I had never experienced anything like it. Using voice, sound effects and music, the effect is quiet overwheming. Experiencing the work from different points in the room could alter the effect the piece has on you at any time. There are sombre parts but also very amusing parts like the operatic rendition of “where is my leg”. Talking us through what I assumed were her dreams and how she felt, and the deeply descriptive language she used not only for the environment, but also for her “internal landscape” made the experience even more evocative.

I thouroughly enjoyed seeing this artwork, and in looking more into the work of Cardiff and Miller. While reading an interview they did, I really liked what they said in relation to the notion of Performance in their work.

“Interviewer: So much in your work is fleeting. Something appears briefly, and almost before the audience can register it, it’s gone. So I wonder how you feel about the video versions of your pieces. People can run the video forward and back, and the pieces become much more transparent.

Janet: We talked about that, whether it was appropriate or not. That’s the catch-22 of documentation. It’s difficult to have catalogues of our work, because it’s time-based and performance-oriented. The video doesn’t show the whole story, for sure; when people go to the real physical piece they experience something completely different. But we always design our work for ourselves, and we don’t like to get bored. So we design things that you’re supposed to see a couple of times over…

George: …or more…

Janet:…so that you can unravel it.”
(Link tot the full interview on

Link to the Fruitmarket Gallery, Scotland – exhibition of Janet Cardiff & George Miller until Sept 8 08
Short video explaining the exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery

I think what seems to be so impressionable about each of their pieces is that the viewer is seemingly teleported into wherever the artists wish to take them. Totally engaged within the artwork itself and while only observing the performance/ installation/ work, still a part of it, despite not having physical control to change their environment. Internally, there is a build-up of emotional growth (I found in particular with The Murder of Crows) even though temporality and chronology don’t seem to be a major theme of their work.