The Murder of Crows


The Murder of Crows


Mixed media installation

30 min.


Curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev for the 16th Biennale of Sydney. The installation was made possible with the generous support of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Freunde Guter Musik e.V. Berlin, The Canada Council, and Bowers & Wilkins Speakers.

Cardiff & Miller

This large installation, ‘The Murder of Crows’, continues Cardiff Miller’s explorations in creating sculptural and physical sound. Ninety-eight audio speakers are mounted around the space on stands, chairs and the wall creating a minimalist flocking of speakers. The structure of the piece tries to mirror that of the illogical but connected juxtapositions that we experience in the dream world. One soundscape moves into another with an electronic dreamscape composition shifting into sound effects such as factory noises, crashing waves or birds wings and then into a guitar and strings composition then into a choir sequence and marching band.

The title for the installation is ‘The Murder of Crows’, which means a grouping of crows. Sometimes when a crow dies, many other crows flock to the area around the dead bird and caw for over 24 hours, creating a ‘crow funeral’. The title also provides a thematic entry into the installation; a basis to create a work that becomes a metaphor for our political situation today.

Another central theme for the piece is Goya’s “Sleep of Reason Brings False Monsters” from the etching series “Los Caprichos.” In this particular one Goya shows a man asleep, his head resting on his folded arms. Owls and bats fly menacingly around his head; at his feet, a lynx sits motionless, alert and staring.

At the centre of our installation there is one physical element that echoes Goya’s etching, a small desk with a megaphone speaker lying on its side. Janet’s voice comes out of the speaker occasionally, telling a sequence of dreams. The sounds and music in Cardiff Miller’s work act like the owls and bats that envelope the sleeping man in Goya’s etching. Janet’s voice, like Goya’s dreamer is helpless to escape from her apocalyptic dreams.


  • Compositions
  • Lightness and Weight by Freida Abtan
  • Traditional Tibetan Prayer performed by the Nuns from Thrangu Tara Abbey, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Bad Foot March by Tilman Ritter, Orion Miller, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
  • The Sacred War, words: Vasily Lebedev-Kumach, music: Aleksandr Aleksandrov
  • Murder of Crows Aria, music: Tilman Ritter words: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
  • Dread by Tilman Ritter
  • Crows Did Fly (Kathmandu Lullaby) by George Bures Miller
  • All orchestral arrangements by Tilman Ritter, performed by Deutsches Film Orchester Babelsberg, conducted by Günter Joseck.
  • Choir conducted by Viktor Skriptchenko (»Sacred War«) and Tilman Ritter (»Aria«).
  • Guitars: Orion Miller, Jeff Person, Titus Maderlechner
  • Bass: Orissa Miller
  • Drums: Titus Maderlechner
  • Piano: Tilman Ritter
  • Additional orchestration: Thomas Stöwer
  • Singers: Michael Mueller, Sophia Brickwell, Ana Pinto, Anna Retczak, Alexander Steinbrecher, Urmas Pevgonen, Sergej Prjahin, Sergej Shafranovich, Valerij Pysarenko, Dmitri Plotnikov, Nikolaj Pavlenko, Andrej Malynk
  • Recording, mixing and sound design: Titus Maderlechner
  • Installation Supervisor: Carlo Crovato
  • Speaker stand construction: Mick Harms

Related Publications

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

Eds.: Elisa Tellez, Zev Tiefenbach


Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey

ISBN 978-607-9355-14-2

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
The Murder of Crows

Ed.: Catherine Crowston


Hatje Cantz

ISBN 978-3-7757-3177-5