Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: Murder of Crows, Park Avenue Armory
Here are the physical items that make up Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Murder of Crows, an extraordinary audio installation now on "view" at the cavernous Park Avenue Armory: 98 speakers, 21 amplifiers, miscellaneous media, electronics, 1 computer, 1 desk, 1 horn speaker, 55 chairs. Seems kind of spare, right? Especially for that gigantic room? Ok, but here's what you'll think the space contains, what it sounds like the space contains, during the course of the 30-minute piece: flocks of gulls swooping and bickering overhead; packs of barking dogs running by; an army of marching prisoners; chanting Tibetan monks; a factory floor in full production; a sea's-worth of crashing waves, experienced from the rickety timbers of wooden beach shack. Plus some pretty great music, and a woman (the actual voice of Janet Cardiff) telling us her freaky dreams.
Park Avenue Armory Show Brings New Sensory Experiences through an Audio Installation
We admit we were skeptical about Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Murder of Crows, at the Park Avenue Armory because… well, because beyond a few gimmicks, how cool could a sound installation be? Also: we tend to not be patient enough to enjoying listening to someone reading us a story, which we assumed would be the dominant feature of Murder of Crows. Not at all. We saw (heard?) Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Murder of Crows last Thursday evening, the night the Park Avenue Armory is open late, and were kind of blown away by the immersive quality of piece, and how this single-sensory experience could be, at various points, so spooky, sad, amusing, and moving.
The History of Murder of Crows & Inside the Audio Installation
The title of the piece, Murder of Crows, refers, of course, to the expression used to designate a flock of those birds, chosen by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller because of their habit of mourning their dead brethren by gathering around a crow-corpse and cawing in unison, sometimes for more than 24 hours straight. Mourning and lamentation is a dominant theme in Murder of Crows, which as a whole is meant to convey the "catastrophes of the twentieth century…. as a series of bad dreams." Pretty heady stuff. But we were mostly just wowed by the way Murder of Crows expands and contracts the huge Armory space; how Cardiff and Miller have truly created a three-dimensional experience–a complete soundscape–using your ears instead of your eyes. We sat in place through one whole cycle, then wandered around to hear the whole piece again from different vantage points, which seemed like a good way to appreciate Murder of Crows both for its sonic scene-building and technical wizardry. If you have a chance (and an extra $12), we suggest you check it out, too.
Catch Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Murder of Crows at the Park Avenue Armory
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's Murder of Crows will be at the Park Avenue Armory through Sunday, September 9. The Armory is located on Park Avenue between 67th and 66th Streets, just a few blocks from The Fairmont on 75th St in the Hunter College neighborhood. The Park Avenue Armory is open Tuesday through Sundays from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m., and on Thursdays until 9:00 p.m. Closed Mondays. For lots more information about everything, please see the Park Avenue Armory website, here.
Posted in NYC Events | Tagged audio installation • George bures miller • Janet Cardiff • Janet cardiff and George bures miller • janet cardiff artist • Janet cardiff george bures miller • Murder of crows • Park Avenue Armory • Park avenue armory show • The park avenue armory