Janet Cardiff (Brussels, Ontario, Canada, 1957) and George Bures Miller (Vergeville, Canada, 1960) use sound and the voice as the raw materials for their installations. Through elaborate recording, editing and playback processes, they create immersive environments that transport spectators to virtual dimensions in which the boundary between reality and fiction blurs. Cardiff and Miller use binaural recordings – a sound recording system that seeks to reproduce the way human ears pick up sounds as accurately as possible – to compose startling three-dimensional evocations of space or, as the writer and curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev puts it, eloquent "trompe l'oreille fiction".
Visual and sound experiences are played off against each other in these installations that draw on radio, film, theatre and literature traditions.

MACBA presented ten of the most significant works produced by Cardiff and Miller between 1995 and 2007.

Since the early nineties Janet Cardiff (Brussels, Ontario, Canada, 1957) and George Bures Miller (Vegreville, Canada, 1960) have been working together on works in which they use sound and voice as raw material and main subject. Through techniques of edition and reproduction of binaural sound and the use of earphones and loudspeaker systems these works can be characterised as authentic sound sculptures.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's installations become temporary units of experience, fictitious narrations, and audio effects that challenge the visitor's sensory experience by dissociating audio and visual sensations. The sculptural space is therefore transformed into a phantasmagorical or hallucinatory one where apparently contradictory cultural traditions coincide at a specific place and time. The spectator is looking at works that are difficult to classify, since they propose a collage that brings together forms of high culture such as opera, art films or literature with popular culture, B-movies, rock'n'roll or radio broadcasts.

This MACBA exhibition unites ten installations that weave together independent but complimentary experiences. Each piece imposes its own time and rhythm, and they bring together the live theatrical experience with that of film, bringing us a new genre of narration. This very high reading visuality brings Cardiff and Miller's work close to literature by generating a script which can be read or interpreted according to the eye or ear of each reader-spectator. This produces stories that live side by side in time and transport the visitor to superimposed fictions: of the museum and of the works.

Among the Solo Exhibitions of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller in recent years are: the Lousiana Museum and the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 2006; the Hirshhorn Museum (Washington) and the Kunsthaus Bregenz, in 2005; the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in 2004; the Whitechapel Art Gallery de Londres and the Museum of Modern Art of Oslo, in 2003; The National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the L.Augustine Gallery of New York and the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin) in 2002; the Canadian Pavillion in the 49 Biennale Venice, the Ps.1 Contemporary Art Center (New York), the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal and the Castello di Rivoli (Torino) in 2001.

The Forty-Part Motet at the Capella-MACBA

Of the ten installations comprising the exhibition, The Forty-Part Motet, 2001 (A reworking of Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis, 1573) , is the most noteworthy as it offers an exceptional experience in audio perception. This piece lets the audience experience a piece of music from the viewpoint of the singers in that every performer hears a unique mix of the piece of music. Enabling the audience to move throughout the space allows them to be intimately connected with the voices and reveals the piece of music as a changing construct. As well it poses the question how sound may physically construct a space in a sculptural way and how a viewer may choose a path through this physical yet virtual space.

Curator: Bartomeu Marí
Coproduced by: Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Institut Mathildenhöhe (Darmstadt, Germany)

Comunication sponsored by:
La Vanguardia (lletres blanques sobre fons negre)
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With de support of:
Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona
Rioja Ysios
El Passadís del Pep


02 FEB. - 01 MAY 2007 Museum galleries
20 MAY - 26 AUG. 2007 Institut Mathildenhöhe (Darmstadt)
21 OCT. 2007 - 20 JAN. 2008 Miami Art Central



Son[i]a #6 Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller