A walk with Janet Cardiff
Class 01 - Sound walk "Her long black hair" It was a bit of a confusing start reorienting myself along with Janet's words rethinking to myself "Wait am I in the right location?" spinning quickly around to see the passing fire truck, only to just realize that it was just the actual recording. It's quite funny how even 15 years later the sounds finds itself perfectly into the space, as I press play and continue along with Janet's foot steps. Trying awkwardly to sync up my rhythm to hers, but ending up with a beat of my own. The Ice cream vendors are still here as she says, even the lady on her cell phone at the bottom of the stairs is here as well. The park seems to have some mystical powers of syncing up the past to the present "One foot into the future and one in the past" isn't that right? well, I couldn't agree more. We continue to walk forward "someone is behind us" she says I look back and come face to face with a random woman "don't look back" well sorry Janet but it's too late for that now.
It's photo number 3 at this point I am imagining along of ghostly past figures ones of the couple setting up for the photo and one with Janet looking at them, they are unaware of a stranger retracing there steps years later. Who is she?
The sounds of thunder rushes in along with the rain's pitter patter, it's fun to play pretend and rush under the clocks arch and playing along checking if the skies have cleared up. Going along with this an empty walk just behind me comes to life along with Janet's words, looking at an emptied bright blue water tank where a polar bear once swam. With words still ringing I can almost see just a peak of a fuzzy polar swimming back and forth maybe give a special jump acknowledging that hey this happened once before. If you squint enough you just might see him.
Something about this experience feels like it's unlocking the magical powers of central park, things that I have never considered before, like how old the trees are, what events they must have seen. Across civil war to world war times to now a swarming hustle of people asking each other for an Instagrammable photo, as if these trees act like time capsules collecting stories and storing it in its trunk. Of course this can only mean one thing, the park is a functional time machine if only you know the password, to unleash all these stories.
"looks like my mother" a random mans voice walks into the scene he continues to tell the story about how his mother left him and his father, it's quite an intimate story to tell to a stranger I wonder. Janet starts to drift into her stories and I do into mine, Yes I too could sit here all day and look at the trees. leaves swaying along with that guitar riff lost in another world now. It seems to do the same for me as well the texture of sounds and it's vibrancy syncing up parts of the past with the present. A saxophone player overlapping with the past reverb of singers in the tunnels. I continue to walk along with Janet, she says something intriguing about how some paths were designed after landscape paintings of thing winding roads. Admiring that scenery I just can't help but to think about Vincent Van Gogh, if maybe in another space and time he would scoring within these bushes looking for the perfect frame to paint.
As I am coming close to the end, everything that was once empty is now filled up with imagination and wonder. Actively listening to every single sound that's coming from behind and moving past me has created a sense of awareness to the quality of the space. What once was a musical performance stage now hosts images from my imagination, specifically of Anastasia's soft echoey singing and her own journey to the past.
This walk was truly inspiring and thought provoking, on how sound can bring life to space even from a different time. It can be a way for us to see the contrast between the past and present and where they might overlap and come together, or it can even be a source of meditation. At this point I take my last inhales and exhales with Janet as she fades away into the background, I get my last glimpse of my own imagination saying good bye and thanks for the enriched experience.