Janet Cardiff - Walks

Janet Cardiff is a Canadian artist who often works with George Bures Miller to produce  Multi-media and sculptural Installations, Video and audio walks amongst other projects.

Her work often relies on the full participation of the audience for it to be fully realised. Below is some text written by her to explain more about her walks and you can also explore the walks completed between 1991 - 2006.

The format of the audio walks is similar to that of an audioguide. You are given a CD player or Ipod and told to stand or sit in a particular spot and press play. On the CD you hear my voice giving directions, like “turn left here” or “go through this gateway”, layered on a background of sounds: the sound of my footsteps, traffic, birds, and miscellaneous sound effects that have been pre-recorded on the same site as they are being heard. This is the important part of the recording. The virtual recorded soundscape has to mimic the real physical one in order to create a new world as a seamless combination of the two. My voice gives directions but also relates thoughts and narrative elements, which instills in the listener a desire to continue and finish the walk.

All of my walks are recorded in binaural audio with multi-layers of sound effects, music, and voices (sometimes as many as 18 tracks) added to the main walking track to create a 3D sphere of sound. Binaural audio is a technique that uses miniature microphones placed in the ears of a person. The result is an incredibly lifelike 3D reproduction of sound. Played back on a headset, it is almost as if the recorded events were taking place live.

Janet Cardiff, from The Walk Book (Janet Cardiff, 2005)

Keywords: Audience participation Audio walks CD iPods

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