Janet Cardiff who often collaborates with husband George Bures Miller is a Canadian artist recognized for her immersive multimedia works, which draw its audience into an unexplored narrative. She specializes in audio walks and site specific audio. Her installation “Forty Part Motet” 2001, is of forty separately recorded voices played through forty speakers mounted on stands and placed strategically around its particular area, may it be in a cathedral, museum or kunsthalles. It is a 14-minute loop with 11 minutes of music and 3 minutes of intermission. Cardiff’s drive to create this audio walk was to allow viewers to experience the music from the viewpoint of the singers as every performer hears a unique mix of the music. She has allowed this as audience may choose their own path throughout the physical and virtual space whilst the layering of voices inhibits an individual and multisensory experience.
Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet allowed me to investigate techniques used to produce an audio walk. I used an iPhone 5s to record music played in three public spaces: Coffee shop, UTS tower building foyer and a library. In the coffee shop the loudest sounds you hear are of the sharp tapping of a barista making the coffee and background noises of people talking over the smooth humming of music. The foyer within the UTS tower building features a busker and the sounds of people mingling whilst the library contrasts with the previous spaces and is very quiet, audience predominantly hear the music and a whispers. This allows viewers to experience sounds in different areas and explores the directionality within the individual spaces. To accompany this audio I have created an illustration deconstructing the sounds heard. I have used different line weights to depict the density within the spaces, where the smallest and darkest rectangular shape represents the sharpest sounds heard in the coffee shop. The lines decreasingly become lighter which represents the vastness created through sound in the library and foyer. The circular shaped lines represent the constant humming of people mingling whilst the broken lines represent the pauses made by the individual as they talk. Through choosing to record the music played in multiple areas I believe I have allowed audience to witness the different understanding of Janet Cardiff’s audio walks.