12 May 2009

Opera for a Small Room, a collaboration between Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller at the Carnegie Museum

Walk into a darkened, cave-like gallery space at the Carnegie Museum of Art and in the center of the room is a large wooden crate structure. A rectangular cutout window in the wood allows us to peek into a room filled with hundreds of records, turntables, old radios and antiques, piled upon tables, shelves and floor, odd light fixtures-one made from a Heinz tomato can. A ghostly shadow sometimes appears while records switch on and off remotely and a soundtrack bounces from inside to out. A collage of sounds creates a landscape for the ears: a man's deep husky voice, a soprano opera singer, noises from the world outside the lively room. As the sound of a train approaches, the entire lighting/sound mood inside the room changes- dims, becomes quiet and is overtaken by the whirring/ jackhammering/rush of the train. The lights sway- the tables all shake.

This is a fantastic installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller -- imaginative, mesmerizing, engaging!!

From their website: There are twenty-four antique loudspeakers out of which come songs, sounds, arias, and occasional pop tunes. There are almost two thousand records stacked around the room and eight record players, which turn on and off robotically syncing with the soundtrack. The sound of someone moving and sorting albums is heard. The audience cannot enter the room. To see and hear his world, they have to look through windows, holes in the walls, and cracks in the doorways and watch his shadow move around the room.

On view until July 24, 2009 at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh--- don't miss it!!!