Saturday, November 30, 2013

The 40 Part Motet

I was a bit underwhelmed by Janet Cardiff's sound installation, "The Forty Part Motet" on view at The Cloisters. The NY Times quoted viewers as saying the experience transported them and was so extraordinary. I just felt like I was listening to a choral concert played though many speakers. It was very nice. Nothing wrong with it at all. But it wasn't a particularly amazing experience.

Here's the description from the Times:

"Inside the ancient chapel was the first presentation of contemporary art ever at the Cloisters: “The Forty Part Motet,” an 11-minute immersion in a tapestry of voice, each thread as vivid as the whole fabric. A sacred composition of Renaissance England is rendered by the multimedia artist Janet Cardiff through 40 speakers — one for each voice in the Salisbury Cathedral Choir, which performed the piece in 2000. What started as one microphone per singer is now a choir of black high-fidelity speakers arrayed in an oval, eight groupings of soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass."

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