Thursday, April 26, 2007


Janet Cardiff (b. 1957) has gained international recognition for her audio and video "Walks" {which she has made in London, Florence, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Louis, and elsewhere}. Visitors, while listening to a CD walkman or watching the screen of a camcorder, follow the artist’s directions through a site, become involved in the stories embedded in Cardiff’s recorded instructions and suggestions... and transforms an everyday stroll in the park into an absorbing psychological and physical experience. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Each person receives an audio kit that contains a CD player with headphones as well as a packet of photographs. As Cardiff's voice on the audio soundtrack guides listeners through the park, they are occasionally prompted to pull out and view one of the photographs. These images link the speaker and the listener within their shared physical surroundings of Central Park.

"It is difficult to know whether the listener assumes the role of participant in this work, because you are never quite in control of where you are going and are, therefore, not necessarily participating. Instead, it feels more like Cardiff has stage-managed all of reality and the world itself has become a huge theatrical production, filled with ambient sounds and a loose narrative about a woman wishing to "get lost". Cardiff herself admits she hasn't quite figured out the precise role of the participant. Instead, she is more interested in exploring how we interact with the city and what types of thought processes take place during that function. Thus, internal dialogues--much like those we carry on inside as we walk the city--become disembodied thought patterns that stream throughout the soundtrack. Sounds taken for granted as you cross the street or as you walk past a shop become disjointed from seen reality. In this way, a car horn beeping that plays on the CD forces you to watch out for approaching traffic that never materialises as you cross the street. On the other hand, some sounds become disturbing because they do correlate with the outside world, such as a band heard playing on a street corner. The band is really there and is playing the same tune as the one heard on the headphones, which is quite prescient and disturbing. The overall sensation is surreal, schizophrenic even...The piece creates an intimate experience even though it alienates you from the world, like the Walkman did in the 80?s and the Internet does today. It also effectively replicates the way society records reality to verify its own existence and conveys one of the pleasures of living in a big city: the ability to remain anonymous." Read more

1 comment:

Princess Haiku said...

I thought you might find some psychogeography related courses to enjoy through MIT OPENCOURSEWARE.