Janet Cardiff’s work brings a different experience than what I expect in a traditional “art” setting. The pieces that I concentrated on primarily focused on interesting sounds and locations. Janet Cardiff’s work has certainly made me question what a public audio experience can be.
‘The Forty Part Motet’ takes a choir and gives each performer their own microphone and speaker. In a normal concert there are few speakers which are placed close together. Giving each performer their own microphone allows you to single out the harmonies of each vocalist.
‘Forest (for a thousand years)’ brings the listener/viewer to a wooded area that has been fitted with speakers and stools. Here the artist lures a technology obsessed public back to nature with the call of prerecorded digital audio. The audio consists of low droning tones and white noise or static. Similar to the calming background noises that are typical of the woods such as rusting leaves blowing with the wind.
This piece is bizarre to watch and to think about. What questions must you ask yourself while you are sitting there? Why am I here right now and not someplace else? Who had the idea to do this and why? Does this mean anything?
Or is it just a place to sit and relax?