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Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller


Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller’s works engage the audience in a tension between experience and perception, fiction and reality. On Vallisaari island, visitors can enjoy their immersive sound installation while seated on tree stumps in the shade of ancient trees.

Janet Cardiff (b. 1957) and George Bures Miller (b. 1960) are known for their immersive multimedia sound installations and audio and video walks. Their works engage the audience in a tension between experience and perception, fiction and reality.

They have recently shown at the Museum of  Contemporary Art in Monterrey, Mexico (2019); Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (2018); 21st Century Museum, Kanazawa, Japan (2017); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2017); ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark (2015); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2015); Menil Collection, Houston (2015); 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014); the Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013); and Documenta 13, Kassel (2012). In 2011 they received Germany’s Käthe Kollwitz Prize, and in 2001, represented Canada at the 49th Venice Biennale , for which they received the Premio Speciale and the Benesse Prize.

The artists live and work in Grindrod, Canada.

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller: FOREST (for a thousand years…), 2012 ©Maija Toivanen/HAM/Helsinki Biennial 2021

FOREST (for a thousand years…), 2012

Artist duo Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller have created an immersive sound installation that visitors can enjoy while seated on tree stumps in the shade of ancient trees. We hear an aircraft flying overhead, laughter, birds singing, machine gun fire, an explosion. The couple collected sounds for the piece from all around the world. They recorded ravens cawing on the west coast of Canada, and the battle sounds were simulated by recording construction site blasting. Volunteers also simulated fight scenes by rattling swords, pounding trees, screaming and yelling.

Nunc dimittis by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt provides evocative accompanying music for the piece. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir performed the piece while standing in two rows, with the microphone slowly weaving between them to create the impression of sounds descending from the treetops toward the listeners.

The title, FOREST (for a thousand years…) (2012), refers to the many sounds to which forests are exposed during their long lifespan. The real nature sounds blend with the recorded soundscape, transforming the tree-lined lane into a co-narrator. The recorded soundscape emulates the sounds heard and produced on Vallisaari island at different times during its history.

The work includes sounds of war.

Photo 1: Zev Tiefenbach

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Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller

FOREST (for a thousand years…)

22 channel audio installation on a 28:00 min loop

loud speakers mounted in a forest setting, amplifiers, playback computer, camping trailer

Thanks to: The Canada Council for the Arts, dOCUMENTA (13), Carolyn Christoff Bakargiev, Christoph Platz, The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, d&b audiotechnik, Michael Case, Ralf Zuleeg, Simon Johnston, Nokia Concert Hall Tallinn, Estonia, Aivar Sirelpuu, Ron Elliot, Heather Pawse, Arvo Pärt, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Luhring Augustine.

Speakers by: d&b audiotechnik

Germany Airplane Recordings: John Leonard

Horse Wrangler: David Miller

Bulldozer: John Thielman

Tree felling: Jeremy Ayotte

Explosions: Pacific Blasting, Banah Blasting, Cody Newman

Horses and Wagon: Sean Newton, Robert Kimber, Greta, Meaghan, Caravan Farm

Sounds, Voices, and Various SFX: Tristan Mackinlay, Rachel Mercer, Jason Chan, Catherine Spencer, Amber Choo, Maggie Shirley, Kevin McCarty, Dayle Mousseau, Kevin Jesuino, Liz Dumontet, Torin McLachlan, Tanja Woloshen, Bee Wolf Ray, Clare Marie Daniela Rutherford Marquez, Peter CloudPanjoyah, Albini Lapierre, Jeremy Williams, Sir Jason Dyer, Bob Aschmann, Alison Joy Cross, Phillip Carter, Silas Crowe, Trinity Pitt, Karl Ostermann, Scott, Kyle Miller, Chelsea Lovde, Tacita Dean, Mathew Hale, Jeffrey Eugenides

Production: Zev Tiefenbach, Annika Rixen, Alison Joy Cross

Installation: Carlo Crovato

Construction (Canada): Eric Fagervik

Mixing and Editing and Sound Design: Titus Maderlechner

Music: Nunc dimittis by Arvo Pärt

Performed by The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Conducted by Heli Jürgenson

Managed by Esper Linnamägi

Recorded at the Nokia Concert Hall, Tallinn, Estonia

Toy Piano Composition by Janet Cardiff

Banshee by George Bures Miller