The largest sound installation to date by artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, The Murder of Crows is a compelling “sound play” that envelops the audience in an unexpected physical and aural environment. Moving and weaving through ninety-eight speakers mounted within the cavernous Drill Hall, the work narrates a captivating and confounding melodrama, investigating concepts of desire, intimacy, love and loss. The multifaceted soundscape uses a fluttering of voices and sounds, from crashing waves to the hubbub of a factory floor, to transport the listener to an unexpected dream-like world.
The Armory’s presentation of The Murder of Crows marks the work’s U.S. premiere.
Three of Janet Cardiff’s dreams serve as the basis for The Murder of Crows, which is structured like a play or a film but with imagery generated only by voice, music, and sound effects. Created using special binaural recording techniques, the installation transports the audience across time and space through the evocative and sometimes disorienting use of sound. Ninety-eight speakers mounted on stands, chairs, and walls throughout the drill hall give voice to the various scenes and characters in this enigmatic composition—from crashing waves to a marching band to the hubbub of a factory floor. Emanating from a gramophone speaker at the center of the installation, Cardiff’s detached voice recounts a series of disturbing dreams—providing an armature for the work.
The gramophone speaker is a visual trope drawn from Francisco Goya’s “Los Caprichos” series of acquatints from 1897 and 1898, whose unsettling images created in response to the political and social upheaval of the time served as inspiration for the installation. The title of the work The Murder of Crows refers to the English term for a flock of crows, who, by coincidence, have been used in literature and visual arts to represent harbingers of death. In addition, the title references the strange natural occurrence known as a “crow funeral,” in which a multitude of crows surround the body of a dead crow and caw, seemingly in mourning, for over 24 hours.
From the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection
In association with the Mostly Mozart Festival
Presented by Park Avenue Armory, New York
August 3 – September 9, 2012
Read more at Park Avenue Armory