The Murder of Crows, 2008

Installation view: Park Avenue Armory, New York, 2012
Photo: James Ewing/OTTO

98-channel sound installation, speakers and stands, computer and program, gramophone horn speaker, table, 55 chairs
30 min
Overall dimensions variable
Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary for the Sydney Biennale 2008

The Murder of Crows is Janet Cardiff’s and George Bures Miller’s largest installation to date. The astounding, 30-minute long, 98-speaker artwork envelops its viewer/listener, continuing the artists’ explorations into the experience of the sculptural and physical qualities of sound. Constantly shifting between fact and fiction, Cardiff and Bures Miller create poetic, ambiguous and fractured narratives that investigate desire, intimacy, love, loss and memory. In their works, the artists refer to the world of film, theatre and spectacle, whilst examining the ways in which technology affects our consciousness.

The large and cavernous space is filled with speakers mounted on stands, chairs and walls, creating a minimalist flocking of speakers. The installation is structured similarly to a play or film, yet its images are created solely by voice, music and sound effects. Inspired by Goya´s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, from the series of etchings, Caprichos (c.1799), the artists placed a lone megaphone horn on a table in the middle of the space. Cardiff´s voice sounds from this horn, reciting dreams and thoughts as if, like Goya´s sleeper, she is absorbed in her own nightmares. Using multiple soundscapes, as well as compositions by Freida Abtan, Tilman Ritter and Alexander Alexandrov, the artists create a “sound play”, which physically envelops the listener in a dynamic field of sound and music. Morphing in a dreamlike manner from war marches to lullabies, the work is a requiem to today´s conflict ridden world.


Exhibition: The Murder of Crows. Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
Venue: Matadero Madrid
Curators: Soledad Gutiérrez
February 17,  2022 - July 24, 2022

Janet Cardiff: *1957 in Ontario, Canada I Living and working in Berlin, Germany
George Bures Miller: *1960 in Alberta, Canada I Living and working in Berlin, Germany
Cardiff Janet is an artist who works chiefly with sound and sound installations, often in collaboration with her husband and partner George Burges Miller. In 1980, she earned her BFA from Queens University, Kingston, Ontario. In 1983 she earned an MVA from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Cardiff first gained international recognition in the art world for her audio walks in 1995. 

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George Bures Miller graduated from Ontrio Collage of Art, University of Alberta. The Sound and installation artist and filmmaker is noted for his collaborative works with his wife Janet Cardiff. The artists won La Biennale di Venezia Special Award at Venice, presented to Canadian artists for the first time and the Benesse Prize, recognizing artists who break new artistic ground with an experimental and pioneering spirit. 

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Six short excerpts from the installation at the Hamburger Bahnhof-Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin, Germany, 2009.