Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller - The Murder of Crows
  Year :   2008
  Location :   Germany
  Worktype :   Installation
  Info :   Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart - Berlin

  Work Details  
  With The Murder of Crows, their largest sound installation to date, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller continue the explorations they embarked on in the mid-1990s into the sculptural and physical attributes of sound. In the otherwise empty historical hall of the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, 98 loudspeakers are installed. These emit the sounds of voices, music and soundscapes generated by special stereophonic recording and replay techniques, creating a composition that has a direct physical impact on the listener. The installation is conceived like a film or a play, but one whose images and narrative structures are created by sound alone. The three-part work, composed in collaboration with Freida Abtan, Tilman Ritter and Titus Maderlechner, is 30 minutes long. The installation’s title, The Murder of Crows, refers both to the English term for a flock of those birds and to the strange occurrence known as a ‘crow funeral’: when a crow dies, many other crows converge around the body and caw, perhaps in lament, for over 24 hours. Another central reference is the etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco de Goya from the series Caprices (Caprichos, 1799). In this suite of etchings, Goya, in the spirit of the enlightenment, took a critical look at tyranny, ignorance and superstition. In an epoch characterized by political and social upheavals, wars and insurrections, he warned: Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters. In the installation by Cardiff and Miller, one hears Janet Cardiff’s voice, coming from a megaphone on a table at the center of the room, relating thoughts and dreams. Like Goya’s sleeping man, she is a captive of her own nightmares, experiencing dreadful scenes fraught with fear and terror. Sounds and noises roam the space of the exhibition like the owls and bats that flit around the sleeper in Goya’s etching. The sound piece becomes a requiem for a world that has lost its bearings, where a dearth of reason has brought forth unimaginable atrocities, madness, and catastrophe. The Murder of Crows is presented in collaboration with Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V. as part of the series "Musikwerke bildender Künstler" at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Accessed 26.07.2009 from http://www.tba21.org/program/commissions/38?category=commissions