The Empty Room


The Empty Room


Multimedia installation, headphones/ CD players

Audio-walk installation with sculpture, 9 min.

Variable, approx. 8m x 9m

Curated by Martin Janda. Raum Aktueller Kunst, Vienna, Austria

Cardiff & Miller

Martin Janda invited us to do an exhibition in his space in Vienna. We decided to experiment with combining an installation with an audio walk. We strung a multitude of curtains to make a labyrinth of hallways, and then situated a revolving loud speaker, a miniature house, and a table, on which there were books, electronics, and a latex rubber head cast from my face.

Janet I walk these halls at night when they think I’m asleep. I go over to the window, opening it wide, letting in the night air … and then I jump.

carousel music and crazy singing

Janet Listen to me, follow my footsteps. Go through the curtain.

Janet Walk quietly, walk slowly … The doctor doesn’t like to be disturbed … Wait, someone’s coming.

sound of footsteps walking by, keys, door opening, doctor’s voice from “Frankenstein’s Bride”: something about the mysteries of life and death. sound of curtain moving

Janet Some nights I feel my bed breathing, going up and down like there’s a sleeping body beneath me. pause Let’s go on. scary music, laughter ? footsteps, then violin is heard.

Janet Stop, listen … he plays every night. violin gets closer … player plays around listener

Older Man’s voice You are getting sleepy … your eyes are closing, but you can still see.

Older Man’s voice When you leave this building you will only remember the emptiness, the white walls, the long hallways. You did not see her here.

In The Empty Room, visitors enter the gallery space from the stairwell of a late-nineteenth-century building in Vienna mixed with residential and office space. In collaboration with George Bures Miller, Janet Cardiff has created a walk through an exhibition space that measures only 50 square meters. Once inside the darkened room, visitors are provided with a flashlight and a Walkman.

The walk leads them through a corridor of plastic curtains with the faint sound of music from an old gramophone and brief instructions given through the headphones. Short statements, ambiguous commands and anxious encounters accompany them as they follow the labyrinthine path through curtains hung closer and closer together.

Martin Janda

Related Publications

Janet Cardiff
The Walk Book

Thyssen_Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna in collaboration with Public Art Fund, New York