Field – City groupwork – Research – Janet Cardiff

During the day Ingrid came and spoke to us about our ideas for the project so far and to see what sort of direction we are going in, and we told her that we were looking at the idea of sensory deprivation/overload, and  she recommended we look at Janet Cardiff’s “40 par motet”. The piece was installed in “The Cloisters” which is a faux-medieval abbey in Manhattan, and is the first instillation ever to be held there, and is comprised of 40 separate speakers on stands, facing outwards in an oval shape, with each speaker playing the voice of one individual person.

As you walk around the oval, you can hear each individual voice singing, the falters in their voice, their breathing, yet only in the centre can you hear the combination of all the voices together in harmony. This gives you a sense of intimacy that is extremely rare and is facilitated by the speakers, as if you tried to listen that closely to one individual singing, to the point where you could hear their breath it would be extremely unnerving and intimidating for them and they would most likely be unable to perform. This sense of intimacy that is cut off from human contact is something that really speaks to me, and is exactly the sort of theme I would like to incorporate into our group project.

You can listen to a great audio description of the work here, unfortunately I can’t seem to embed it here


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