In Real Time


In Real Time


Video walk

18 minutes

Curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn for the 53rd Carnegie International at Carnegie Library.

Janet Cardiff

I was sitting in the living room with the video camera taping as George and I were having coffee, moving the camera around the room. Then I replayed it and found myself unconsciously following the pan of the recorded shot and being disconcerted when George, having gotten up, wasn’t in the shot where he was supposed to be. I realized that it was the same kind of strange situation as the telescope pieces we had done where the architecture remains the same but the people and cars change. The viewer becomes like the robotic head of the telescope moving to align the prerecorded video to the physical world. When Madeleine Grynsztejn invited me to do an audio walk for the Carnegie I suggested that I try a new format, a video walk. It was a complete experiment but it opened up the walks to a whole new discourse and level of experimentation for us. The story became a narrative using the idea of the audience / participant as a ‘rat’ in a maze, testing the limits of reality.

opening on camera is a tracking shot of pipes in basement ceiling, ominous music

Janet Perhaps if I show you what I have seen you can help me understand. I don’t know why they sent me. I’m not very strong or brave. I guess I’m expendable though. image of man (Doctor) in white lab coat sitting in a dark room comes up onto the screen. his voice is recorded as if it is heard off the camera

Doctor It’s time for us to get started. Tell me what you see.

pan around library room

Janet I’m in Pittsburgh. It’s 1999. I’m on the main floor of the Carnegie Library built in 1895 in the neo-classical style.

Janet Get up. Watch the screen. Follow me. I’m walking through the main holding center towards the exit.

daytime. walk into the big hall filled with library tables. then the shot changes to a night scene lit by desk lamps. the sound is of a priest reading mass

Janet It’s night. Everyone has left. Walk to the right.

Janet whispered In the back of the truck I see a mound of fur and legs, two dead deer and a fox. The blood is matted in the fox’s hair … the eyes of the deer are still open.

walk past card catalog and the room dissolves to daylight shot again.Someone runs by camera just as it goes into stacks, hear voices coming from the offices …

Doctor’s voice There’s a woman walking in front of you.

Janet No, that was the last time. There’s a man with a white shirt and suspenders now.

Janet Turn right into the stacks. I like the smell here. Somewhere amongst this labyrinth of stories there is a book that I need to find. They told me someone would be here to give it to me.

pass someone standing in stack reading book. he puts it back on the shelf. you reach for it, look at it then put book back on shelf

Janet Constantinople. I’m going to sit down to look at it. Sit down on one of these seats.

Janet I remember seeing a giant emerald, riding on the ferry to Asia, smoke, and the smell of fish.

shot of taking book and then sitting down and opens book

Janet Just black letters on a white page. I was expecting something more.

Doctor’s voice In a maze of this type the pattern is provided by the particular sequences of right and left turns required of the animal before it is permitted to reach the goal.

Janet Turn to the left then walk straight.

Janet came out on March 11, 1999, a year and a half before the Carnegie International. She brought her own camera and the first thing that I watched her do was spatially test the place, which made me recognize that she is fundamentally a sculptor. She works with volume as well as sound. Then when she came to produce the piece, we set her and George up in an office, and they actually produced the piece there. You can’t imagine anything more site-specific or, as I say, system-specific.

What’s interesting about working with Janet is that, to my delight, she works with what’s at hand. She likes to work with the people who work there, with their children, their friends, and so on. Not only is she focused on the site architecturally, she is also interested in its human dimension. The people who ended up in In Real Time were the curatorial assistant on the project and our registrar, which inspired loyalty amongst everyone to the project, though I don’t think that was her strategic intention. The sound that Janet was often very interested in was literally local. She’s interested in sound in general, but within that she allows for the indigenous sound to appear.

Madeleine Grynsztejn

Related Publications

Janet Cardiff
The Walk Book

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