Artist OTW [Wk 7]: Janet Cardiff

Janet Cardiff’s form of art is one that is quite unique from anything else that we have looked at during this class. This type of art is a multi-sensory experience. Her art serves as a sort of mini tour of different environments. These tours are not only visible to the eye, but there are also components to it that are able to be heard. These sounds give a whole different dimension to the art and allow the audience taking it in to experience art in a way that we don’t normally get to. If you take away the visual aspect of the art and just listen to the audio (maybe even with closing your eyes), it has a very different feel to it (one interesting observation made by a couple of us in the discussion board was that it reminded us of something similar to Pink Floyd). It is most definitely a much different experience taking in the art solely through sound. Your imagination paints its own picture of what it believes the sounds are telling it, sort of like a dream, when you are trying to fall asleep and taking in different sounds.

Cardiff’s “tours” are much like some exhibits that I have had the privilege of observing in the art galleries at CSULB. These exhibits are almost interactive in the sense that they are not only visual, but audio pieces as well (most of them play different mixes of music), and the audience is able to react in different ways to the how the installations make them feel. Music in particular has a way of bringing out certain emotions from people, and I believe that incorporating it with the visual arts is a beautiful combination.

In addition to the sounds incorporated into Cardiff’s work, there are many outside factors that play a part in her art as well. For example, there are many people that move around and go through the scene in the background of her “tours”. Some might suggest that Cardiff just set up the camera and randomly shot where she was, and didn’t take too much into consideration the surrounding activity. I, however, believe that she did take these into consideration, and placed them where it would work aesthetically into the tour. I don’t believe that an artist would be that nonchalant about their work.

Personally, my favorite piece of Cardiff’s was entitled “FOREST (for a thousand years)”. This “tour”, as can be deciphered from the title, is of a forest and people inhabiting it. The thing that I love most about this specific piece is that it shows every different aspect of the forest, and it is not just a single snapshot photograph of a forest. She pans all around with her video camera, showing the canopies of the green trees and the sky peeking through, down to the trunks, and all the way to the forest floor with all of the different debris and some wildlife. Next, she focuses on a group of people gathered all around each other sitting on tree trunks. The interesting thing about this group of people is that they are almost completely still, only a couple people move. I find this to be quite odd, however she must have some personal meaning to why this is the case. Finally, I greatly enjoyed the sounds of the forest that you hear in the background. This piece really makes you feel as if you are standing there, walking through the forest with Cardiff.


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