In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of New York City, an installation quite different than any other is on view at the Park Avenue Armory located at 643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th street. Focused on sound rather than sight, this installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, called The Murder of Crows, fills up the large room of the armory with speakers, 98 to be exact, that are positioned carefully and point towards the center of the room (some on stands, some on the floor, and some even hanging from the ceiling). Since the only source of light in the enormous space is in the center of the room, it is one of the first things to catch your eye. Also in the middle of the room is one megaphone speaker from which the voice of a woman (who is also one of the artists) narrates her dark dreams and nightmares. The other 97 speakers in the room emit sounds and music that either changes the mood of the installation or helps narrate the stories that the woman, Janet Cardiff, is reciting. Each speaker transmits a different sound, so no two speakers are playing the same thing. However, when all played together it is as if a whole orchestra is playing in unison. You are free to roam around the darkly lit room and experience the sound from many different perspectives, which also makes the piece more open to your own interpretation.
The Armory is conveniently located close to subway and bus stops, and the trip is worthwhile. The installation will last from August 3rd to September 9th, so act fast before it’s too late! This piece is unique and puts a spin on traditional art (installations), which is why I really enjoyed it. Also, the piece had very few visual elements, if any, which made it even more engaging because you really could form the images in your head instead of having them given to you, and you are free to interpret the piece however you want to. The feeling that you are really inside the story is another component that will further entice you; for example you might hear footsteps passing by you or a bird flying overhead, but in reality it’s the movement of the sound from one speaker to another. Like a surround-sound system, The Murder of Crows is able to grasp your attention and captivate you inside another dark, but spectacular, world.